SIN and suffering go hand in hand, but sometimes their relationship may not be so obvious. This is because sin makes every effort to justify and disguise itself. For example, the sin of overindulgence tries to pass itself off as harmless fun. Lust tries to associate itself with love. Suffering awakens us to the need for repentance. Suffering calls us to stop justifying sin and to confront it. Suffering compels us to live a more Christly life. This is not to say that suffering is in itself a virtue. But when it spurs us to put off wrong thinking and acting, it can be seen as a bridge to right living and holiness.
Perhaps it all boils down to this question: ``Am I gaining a little each day in forgiveness, prayerfulness, and integrity?'' This kind of self-examination will help us to detect whether sin has found a hiding place in our character.
Christ Jesus pointed out on several occasions that a moral error was at the root of suffering. After healing a man who had been crippled for many years, Jesus said to him, ``Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.''1
But not all of our suffering stems from sin. Jesus once said concerning a man born blind, ``Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.''2
So we need to exercise inspired judgment, or spiritual discernment, in determining the apparent cause of suffering. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, identifies the sources of suffering when she writes: ``The procuring cause and foundation of all sickness is fear, ignorance, or sin.''3
Identifying the source of suffering is a significant part of healing suffering; but there is more to do. One must pray to see that God is really not empowering fear, ignorance, or sin. Therefore it has no basis in truth, no legitimacy, no control over man, God's spiritual offspring. And from the basis of this understanding we can find healing and resist whatever is unlike God, divine Love. Since God does not cause or animate evil, we can cast it off.
In working to heal sin, one can realize that God has not made man a slave to any evil. God's man is governed by right action and right attraction. God, Love, has not made man a battlefield between purity and lust or between honesty and dishonesty. God has fashioned man in His likeness, to express purity and integrity.
How could a loving God provide opportunities for man to sin and suffer? What could provoke infinite goodness to sponsor evil? The Christian Science textbook by Mrs. Eddy answers, ``The real man cannot depart from holiness, nor can God, by whom man is evolved, engender the capacity or freedom to sin.''4
When one catches a glimpse of the reality that God does not author or even permit sin, then he can see sin for what it is--a baseless imposition on our recognition of man's true, God-given identity. Sin can be understood as a mistaken belief; a lie that need have no home in us. We need to proclaim through prayer that sin has no origin, no cause, no reality, because it has no God. This understanding undergirds our honest efforts to repent of wrongdoing. Having thoroughly repented, we find ourselves walking more closely with God, living with greater innocence, lawfulness, and self-control. We find ourselves healed of the suffering that companions with sin.
1John 5:14. 2John 9:3. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 411. 4Ibid., p. 475. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:23,24