Suffering: Sharing in Christ’s Life and Work

St. John Kochurov

 “Orthodox theologians approach the problem of suffering form a perspective rather different from that of St. Augustine or the Western scholastics.  Eastern Church tradition views pain and suffering as evil consequences of the Fall, unintended by God but allowed as a kind of spiritual pedagogy.  Generally speaking, suffering is not considered to be punishment for sin inflicted by a God of wrath, nor is it explained simply as a function of theodicy.  Nor does Orthodoxy tradition understand suffering to be a condition or essential prerequisite, a necessary ‘price to pay,’ for our redemption and salvation.  To recall the apostle Paul’s assertion to the Corinthians, ‘You have been bought with a price!’  That is, our redemption from the slavery of sin and death is accomplished entirely by Christ’s own suffering and death.  As the Suffering Servant foreshadowed in Isaiah 53, Christ bore his passion for us, on our behalf.  Although we can share in his sufferings through acts of ‘martyrdom’ or witness, such ‘works’ are never understood to be the condition for our liberation from the consequences of sin and death.”  (John Breck, THE SACRED GIFT OF LIFE, p. 213)

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