CT has a nice article entitled Reductionist Justice, in which the author discusses the error of Job’s friends, which was to reduce all suffering to God’s retributive justice for sin. As the author notes, there are at least eight types of suffering described in the Bible.
The eight types of suffering in the Bible are:
- Retributive Suffering – caused by sin and disobedience to God.
- Educational or Disciplinary Suffering – as in Proverbs 3:11 or Hebrews 12:5-6
- Vicarious Suffering – as in the case of our Lord’s death on the cross
- Empathetic Suffering – where one person’s grief affects many others, as Isaiah 63:9 illustrates
- Evidential or Testimonial Suffering – as in the first two chapters of Job
- Doxological Suffering – for the glory of God, as in the man born blind in John 9
- Revelational Suffering – as in the case of the prophet Hosea’s wife abandoning him
- Apocalyptic or Eschatological Suffering – that will come at the end of this age.
It is interesting to compare this list to The Five Types of Divine Anger:
- Eternal Wrath – Eternal separation from God – the final judgment for those who reject Christ. This is going on now for those dead, and will go on into the infinite future.
- Eschatological Wrath – The outpouring of God’s judgment during the “last days.” (Revelation 6-19). This wrath is yet to come.
- Calamitous Wrath – Such interventions as the Noahic Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.
- Consequential Wrath – the natural results of bad choices. Whatever we sow, we reap. This reaping, though passive on God’s part, it still seen as God’s judgment, and wrath, on sin.
- The Wrath of Abandonment – this is what MacArthur says is being described in Romans 1, and how God judges individuals, groups, and nations. And he says America is already there.