The mystery of suffering and death
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THE MYSTERY OF SUFFERING AND DEATH. Chapter 1: The Pain of Being Human. “Down but Not Out” . Pg. 6, The Story of Jenna DISCUSSION : If you were in Jenna’s shoes, how do you think you would react to the suffering? What would be your feelings? Thoughts? Your attitudes towards the future?.

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The mystery of suffering and death


Chapter 1: The Pain of Being Human

Down but not out

“Down but Not Out”

Pg. 6, The Story of Jenna


If you were in Jenna’s shoes, how do you think you would react to the suffering? What would be your feelings? Thoughts? Your attitudes towards the future?

What is suffering

What is Suffering?

According to the International Association for the Study of Pain, “suffering is an unpleasant sensory or emotional experience.”

What are its causes??

Different causes of human suffering

Different Causes of Human Suffering


Ex. arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, ALS

Natural or human-caused catastrophes

Ex. Earthquakes, hurricanes, car accidents, bombings


Ex. Death of a loved one, break-up in a relationship, theft


Ex. Divorce of one’s parents, moving to a new city, starting a new school year

Is suffering discriminatory

Is Suffering Discriminatory?


--Whatever its cause, suffering is real and strikes the young, old, rich, poor, the sinners and saints and people of all races.

What is pain

What is Pain?


-sharp, severe pain that has a sudden onset and lasts only a short period of time.


-long-term pain; suffering that may never be relieved

Example: Tommy touches a hot stove

-What type of pain would Tommy experience?

Why do we feel pain

Why Do We Feel Pain?

Central Nervous System: Consists of our brain and spinal cord.

Peripheral Nervous System:

-network of fibers known as nerves leading to individual nerve cells (neurons)

Central and peripheral nervous systems

Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems

How do we know we touch something hot

How do we know we touch something hot?

Types of pain

Types of Pain

1. Physical

Ex: serious diseases, broken bones, cramps, migraines, etc.

2. Psychological

Ex: abandonment, rejection, fear of failure, guilt, anger, etc.

3. Spiritual

Ex: doubting God exists, doubting that God cares and loves us, a sense of isolation and alienation from God, etc.

How bad is the pain

How bad is the pain?

Four main lobes of the brian

Four Main Lobes of the Brian

Psychological pain

Psychological Pain



In groups of 4, read one of the following Scripture passages:

-Tobit 10:1-7-Psalm 22

-Psalm 38-Sirach 37:1-6

-Lamentations 3:1-17-Psalm 137

List the type of suffering found in the passage. Then try to categorize each suffering as physical, psychological, or spiritual.



“They have pierced my hands and my feet.” (Psalm 22:17)



Causes of pain

Causes of Pain

Jewish philosopher Moses Maimondis labels suffering as EVIL.

In his classic book, The Guide for the Perplexed, he explains that suffering is caused by THREE types of evil:

1 human nature

1. Human Nature

  • We, as humans, are subject to birth and death

  • Live in a limited, imperfect world.

  • Suffering includes:

    • Mortality (death)

    • Environmental evils- drought, earthquakes, hurricanes

    • Biological evils-genetic defects, illness

    • Accidental evils-paralysis

2 evils inflicted on each other

2. Evils Inflicted on Each Other

  • Evils include:

    • Violence, physical abuse, rape, war, crime, discrimination, drunk drivers, gang violence, etc.

      Examples of Suffering:

      -Oklahoma City Bombing, Holocaust, institution of slavery in America,

3 self infliction

3. Self-Infliction

Such suffering has Psychological causes.

Neurosis- an unhealthy mental condition in which one is trapped within an endlessly recurring pattern of emotional suffering—anxiety, obsession, self-centeredness, paranoia, fatalism, etc.



In a small group, look through a recent newspaper or news magazine. Find THREE examples of suffering caused by:

(a)the natural limitations of being human

(b) evils caused by others

(c) evils caused by oneself

Explain the article and how it describes each evil.

A world with no suffering

A World with No Suffering

Many people throughout history have had such thoughts;

In the Book of Genesis, the Garden of Eden is described as a paradise—a heaven on earth in which people walk and talk with God.

In Buddhist religion, blissful state they call nirvana—state of perfect happiness, in which there is no suffering or death.

A number of philosophers have described their vision of utopia—a perfect, or ideal society.

Problem with this thinking? It assumes we can only be happy if there is no sadness, pain, or death.

No pain no gain

No Pain, No Gain

If we are willing to suffer to reach a goal, then, (1) the goal must be truly worthwhile

(2) we must really want to attain it

A certain amount of suffering seems to be necessary for the strengthening of human character.

It contributes to our self-esteem and our sense of accomplishment and helps us to be generous, show compassion, display courage, and be determined.

Suffering and love

Suffering and Love

Ironically, we use the same word to describe suffering and love.

--Passion (Latin “to suffer”)-means to experience intense, driving, overwhelming emotion and feeling.

Loving people also suffer when their loved ones suffer. So to suffer with others is to show Compassion.

The mystery of love is intimately tied up with the mystery of suffering. Just as love makes us more alive; suffering and death makes us more “human.”

Suffering and faith

Suffering and Faith

Faith- a theological virtue that enables us to believe that God exists and loves us.

- enables us to have a personal relationship with God and to live by gospel values, despite situations of suffering and pain.



In groups of 4, look up each of the Scripture passages listed on the page that refer to the suffering of Jesus.

Categorize each example of suffering as PHYSICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, or SPIRITUAL.

Put all answers on one sheet of paper and turn in at the end of class.



“He suffered from fatigue” (John 4:6)


Jesus suffered

Jesus Suffered

Because Jesus truly suffered the pain of being human, there are THREE things we can believe:

Suffering does not separate us from God. God cares about our suffering.

God does not let us face our suffering alone.

Suffering is not the end.

How fast can you bounce back

How Fast Can You Bounce Back?

People who bounce back fast and get on with their lives are said to have resilience.

Resilience- the ability to handle whatever life deals us.

- resilient people thrive despite the problems they are having.

How resilient are you


Take the quiz.

Circle the answers that honestly reflect you.

After completion of the quiz, you will receive a score for each question…

Scoring for quiz

Scoring for Quiz

24-37 points—means that you are thriving under pressure.

13-23 points—means that you are holding steady

5-12 points—means that you may be at your bursting point

Journal question

Journal Question

Pg 19

Please respond in your notebooks.

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