Hope in times of disease and suffering

Outline: Four Bible stories to help sufferers of natural disasters especially disease to find hope for the future even in the midst of suffering. Presents the sufferings of Jesus on our behalf.

Script Number: 495

Language: English

Theme: Lifestyle (Medical); Living as a Christian (Faith, trust, believe in Jesus); Problems (Sickness, Fear, Problems, troubles, worries); Sin and Satan (Judgement)

Audience: General; Sick people

Style: Multiple voices

Genre: Bible Stories & Teac

Purpose: Pre-evangelism; Teaching

Bible Quotation: Paraphrase

Status: Approved

Scripts are basic guidelines for translation and recording into other languages. They should be adapted as necessary to make them understandable and relevant for each different culture and language. Some terms and concepts used may need more explanation or even be replaced or omitted completely.

Script Text


Luke 13:1-5

(Brief musical introduction perhaps with the 'breaking news story’ of death toll from pandemic)

V1. It seemed to happened so quickly. Firstly there was just a few reports of people getting sick far away. Then within a few days, its was hundreds of people getting sick and not just in one place. Within a few short weeks all around the world people were getting sick and many were dying. There seemed no escape from this disease.
Governments got involved. They banned travel closed down schools and businesses and stopped people gathering together – all in an effort to stop the spread of the disease.
Across the world there was uncertainty, anxiety and even fear. No-one knew how long this would last. Everyone was affected in some way. Some could not work and so lost income. Global economies suffered and the impact was widespread.
Why is this happening? Is it the end of the world? Is it some evil scheme? Is it that the whole world is being punished for some crime? Why are we suffering like this?

There are many questions but no easy answers, but there are some important things to think about. There is hope. There is a future. Keep listening and you may find hope and strength for the future. You may even find some answers for your questions.
These messages of hope are based on what the Creator God Himself has told us. God's message is recorded in a special book that Christians call the Bible. You may not be a Christian or understand much about Christianity, but listen anyway. God may speak to you through these messages.
In the Bible there are many stories of sickness and natural disasters. The Bible speaks into our human situation.
{Instrumental break}

V2. Hello my friend. Can you help me? I don't really know what to do or even think! When I first heard about this disease I was so afraid. I kept wondering if I or one of my children might be next to get sick. Why is this happening to us? I can't help but think that some god somewhere must be very angry with us. Is this disease judgement from God is it just the wheel of fate bringing judgement because we deserved it? Is it evil spirits or is it just bad luck?
V1. Hello. I hope I can help you. It is true that when bad things happen people often think that some god is angry and judging them. Others believe that it is just blind fate.
But to respond to your question, I would like to tell you a few stories. They are true stories from the Bible and they help us understand situations like this. The first one is about Jesus, God's special messenger. People asked Jesus about suffering and about God's judgement also.
Jesus was a great teacher and story teller. People loved to come and listen to Him. He spoke words of wisdom and words of comfort and hope from the one true God. Sometimes, He spoke words of warning. The words He spoke a long time ago are very important for us today.

On one occasion people started telling Jesus about terrible things that had happened to some people in another city. At that time a governor had been very cruel and tortured and killed many people.
Jesus said to them, “Do you think that those people were worse than others from that place because they suffered in this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will die. Did you hear the news about the tower that fell on 18 people and killed them? Do you think that those who died were guiltier than all the other people living in that place? I tell you, no! They were not worse people than anyone else. But unless you repent, you too will all die (perish).”
V2. What does this mean?
V1. Jesus explained very clearly that when bad things happen to someone, it does not mean they are bad people or worse people than others. It does not mean that they deserve to be punished more than other people. But He did tell them to look at the suffering and death of others as a warning, a warning to be ready at any time to face God. God is the final judge. He will decide our fate forever. His judgement will depend on whether we have listened to His word and obeyed it.
V2. So, when I hear about people dying from this disease I should take it as a reminder and warning that I need to be ready to face death at any time.
V1. Yes that’s right.
V2. But doesn’t the Bible say that God uses disease and as punishment. I’m sure I’ve heard something like that.
V1. Yes indeed, there are many places where disease and famines and plagues and other natural disasters are explained as God’s judgement on a nation for having turned away from him. This is why Jesus tells us to consider our own lives when we see suffering. But it is not always like this.
We live in a world where things have gone wrong. The very first story in the Bible explains this. God made the world good but because the people he made rebelled against him and did not follow his directions, the whole of the world was affected and God’s beautiful world began to see corruption and danger, sickness and death. So, in our world sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes evil people seem to live a long and happy life. But God says that in the end we will all die and face Him. At that time He will decide to reward or punish us. So we must be ready for that. That is why Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you too will all die (perish).”
V2. Does this mean if I repent I will never die? If that is true, I need to know what it means to repent.*
V1. I'll tell you soon what it means to repent but no, it doesn't mean that you will never die. Everybody dies, sooner or later. Jesus was talking about spiritual death, which is separation from God for ever. That's what happens if we don't repent.
V2. Well, I still want to know what 'repent' means.
V1. Certainly I will tell you but please let me tell you another story first. It will help you understand.
{Instrumental break}

The man born blind

John 9

V3. The Man Born Blind
V1. One day as Jesus was walking along with his friends, they saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Teacher,” His friends asked, “Why was this man born blind? Was it because of the wrong things he did, or because of the wrong things that his parents had done?”
Jesus’ friends thought there must be a reason why this man had been born blind. They thought that he or his family must have done something very bad. Some people might think that the man had done wrong things in a previous life.
But Jesus answered, “It was not because of what this man had done or because of what his parents had done. This man was born blind so that the power of God could be seen in him.”
Then Jesus did something very unusual (strange). He spat on the ground and made some mud. He spread the mud on the man's eyes and sent him to a pool to wash the mud off. When the man washed off the mud he could see! His sight had been restored. He was healed.{(Details can be omitted if spitting is very repugnant to this language group}.
When people who knew the man saw what had happened they were amazed and could not understand how the man was healed. But he kept on explaining how Jesus had made the mud, spread it on his eyes and told him to wash it off, and when he did, he could see!
In this story, God had allowed the man to be born blind for a special reason. It was so that God's great power would be seen when Jesus healed him and people would praise God. And that is what happened.
V2 That's a very interesting story, but tell me, do all bad things happen just so that people will see God's power?
V1. Certainly not!* (No, not all of them). This is just one of several reason why suffering happens.
The story of Job has important things to teach us about suffering. Can I tell you this story also?
V2. Please do. These are interesting stories

The story of Job


V3. The Story of Job
V1. Job lived a very long time ago. He was a very rich man. He had 7 sons, 3 daughters and many servants. He also owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen and 500 donkeys. (If these animals are not known say something like 'Job had many large herds of animals'. Use appropriate numbers or descriptors).
Job was a very good man. He was honest and kind. He worshipped God and always tried to please Him. But one day disaster struck and many terrible things happened to Job.
Firstly, foreigner bandits/raiders came and attacked his farms. They stole all his cattle and donkeys and killed his farm workers. After that, a fire suddenly fell from the sky and burned up all his sheep and the shepherds. Then another band of raiders stole his camels and killed those who looked after them. Finally, a freak (great/very unusual...) wind storm came and flattened the house where Job’s sons and daughters were gathered. They were all killed.
V2. That’s terrible. Job must have been an evil man for so many bad things to happen to him.
V1. That’s exactly what his friends thought but it was not so. Job really was a very good man.
When he (Job) heard all the news of what had happened to his family and livestock, he was very upset [devastated/distraught]. He tore his clothes in his sadness. He shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship God. He said, “I brought nothing into the world when I was born and I will take nothing with me when I die. The Lord gave me what I had and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord.”
Job’s friends were convinced that he must have done something very bad to have suffered so much but Job knew that was not true. He did not understand why he was suffering so much But he knew that God was in charge.
There is more in this story but later on, God once again blessed Job with more family and livestock.
But the story of Job does not explain the reason for suffering. It does not explain why bad things happen to us. But it does make it clear that God allows suffering to happen and He has a purpose in everything that happens – even if we cannot understand what the purpose is.
V2. But knowing that God allows suffering does not comfort me. I want to know why the suffering happens.
V1. But if we do not understand why it happens, at least we can be comforted when we understand that God is in control and that he uses it for good purposes.
V2. I guess so.
V1. Human suffering is a very difficult subject. The better we know God the better we can understand His purposes. Perhaps this next story will help you understand. {Music break}

The suffering of Jesus

The Gospels

V3. The Suffering of Jesus
V1. This is the true story about Jesus Himself. I'm can’t tell you* the whole story (life of Jesus) now. It would take a long time. I'll just tell you some parts of the story. The whole story can be found in the Bible.
At the very beginning of the world, when God made people, He gave them special instructions. But the first people did not want to listen to God's instructions. They rebelled against (disobeyed) God, did not follow his instructions and dishonoured him. Because of their rebellion things went very wrong. Life became very hard. The people felt great shame. Sickness, pain and death come into the world. This was God's judgement on people for their rebellion. The whole world was affected, and there was nothing that anyone could do to make the situation right.
This is why Jesus came into the world. He came from God and He came to start putting right all that had gone wrong when people rebelled against God. He was God's special messenger and He came to show us what God is like. He came to show us God's love and to teach us God's truth. He came to help us know God. He came to open the way for us to become friends with God so that after this life we could live with God forever in his new creation.
Jesus came to restore our relationship to God. To do that, He took the punishment upon Himself that all people deserve for going against God and his instructions. Just like the first people, we also have refused to listen to God. We have dishonoured God and chosen to ignore His instructions. We have chosen our own way and ignored God's way. We deserve God's punishment, but Jesus took our punishment upon Himself. He suffered and died in our place.
He suffered greatly (terribly). He suffered physically when he was nailed to a wooden cross and left to die. He suffered spiritually and emotionally when he took upon Himself the pain of separation from God, and endured the judgement of God.
He suffered for you and me and for all people. He knows what it is like to suffer and die a painful death. He knows how it feels when those we love die and are taken from us. Because He loved us, He suffered so that we would not need to suffer for our rebellion against God. If we believe in Him and follow Him, we will not face punishment after this life. We will experience His joy and peace forever.
In the Bible it says, “God loved the world so much that He sent His only son (Jesus) so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”
V2. That sounds really amazing! But how can we know that Jesus’ suffering helps us? He died.
V1. That's a good question. We can know that Jesus’ suffering helps us, and we can experience His help now, because Jesus did not stay dead!
On the third day after He was nailed to the cross and died, God raised Him back to life. He was seen by many people. He often spoke with His friends (companions). He said, “Don't be afraid. I will be with you always. I will help you, and after this life I will take you to be with myself forever. Trust me.”
Jesus suffered in our place so that we would not need to suffer God's punishment. He rose from the dead so that we could share His life forever.
This is the most important story every told, and it is all true.
V2 It is an amazing story. Who would think that suffering could have such a purpose?
V1 Do you remember the story about those who died when the tower fell on them and Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you too will die”? Disaster comes to us as a warning. It is a reminder that one day we will all die, and we must be ready.
V2. Yes, I remember, but you still haven't told me what it means to repent.*
V1. I'll explain it now – with another story – it is the last one for now.* This is a story that Jesus told to explain repentance and God's love.
{Musical break}

The story of the father and his two sons

Luke 15:11-32

V3 The story of The Father and His Two Sons.
V1. Once there was a wealthy man who had two sons. One day the younger son came to his father and said, “Father, I don't want to wait until you die to get my share of the inheritance. Give it to me now so I can go and enjoy myself.”
The father was sad because his son had acted so shamefully and wanted to leave him. But he gave his son all that he asked for. (If this makes it appear that the father was not wise, say something like, “he gave his son his share.”) Soon after, the younger son left and went off to the big city, far away from his father.
This son was determined to have a good time. He bought whatever he wanted and wasted his money on wild living. (Elaborate as appropriate). But then his money ran out. Everyone who had been his friend while he had money now deserted (left) him. {Use this sentence with discretion, as it is not in the Bible}.
There was a great famine in the land. Food became scarce and expensive. The young man needed a job but could not get one. He became desperate. At last he got a job. It was a dirty, disgusting job feeding pigs and it didn't pay very much. He was so hungry that he wanted to eat the pig food but he could not.
At last he realised what a fool he had been. He thought to himself, “Even my father’s servants are better off than I am. What have I done? I will go to my father and say 'Father, I'm sorry; I have sinned against you and against heaven. I am not worthy to be your son. Please make me one of your hired servants.'” And he started the long journey back home.
{brief music?}
Ever since the boy had left home, the father had been waiting, hoping that the boy would return. Even though his son had dishonoured him, he still loved his son and wanted him to come home. Every day, he would look down the road hoping to see his son. Then one day, he saw his son in the distance. The father ran towards him.
When the father came close, his son started to speak, “Father I'm so sorry for what I did! I don't deserve to be your son...”
But the father interrupted the boy, embraced him, even though the son was dirty and smelly and called to a servant, “Quick, bring a robe for my son and a ring for his finger! Prepare the finest food, because we are going to have a feast to celebrate the return of my son.”
Later, while the party (feast/celebration) was going on, the older brother came in from the fields. When he heard what was going on he complained to his father. “This son of yours wasted your money on prostitutes. Now when he comes home, you put on a feast for him. But you have never given me anything to celebrate with my friends.”
The father said to him, “My son, all I have is yours. But this, your younger brother, was lost and now he is found. He was dead and is now alive. We must celebrate!”

The story does not tell us what the older son did then. But the younger son – the one who wasted his father's money, shows us what it means to repent.
It means to become humble [humble oneself] and to admit “I was wrong.” It means I must be sorry for the ways I have dishonoured and disobeyed God. It means I must be willing to change. I must be willing to stop living to please myself, and live to please God.
This can be a hard thing to do. But here is the good news. If we are sincere [If our repentance is genuine], God helps us. He changes us 'inside' so that we want to please Him. He helps us become a follower of Jesus. When we repent like this, God saves us from being separated from Him forever, just like Jesus said.
V2. But how do we know that God will accept us?
V1. The father in the story shows us what God is like. God loves us even when we rebel against Him. He is waiting for us to come back to himself. He is willing and waiting to forgive us and take us back, to make us His children.
V2. This is Good news. I certainly want to come back to God. But why doesn't everyone turn back to God?
V1. That's a good question. Many people are like the older son in the story. They think they are already good enough for God. These people think their own efforts, good works and religious rituals and activities make them good enough for God. When people think they can be good enough for God by their own efforts, they are not willing to repent and accept His forgiveness and love. In the end, they stay separated from God. {Brief musical break}
It is true that in this life we will face many challenges – some big and some small. Whatever problems we face - an earthquake, a famine, sickness or something else - God wants us to realise our need of Him. He wants us to come to Him for help. He wants us to repent, to turn to Him and ask Him for help. He wants us to receive His love and mercy. He wants us to trust Jesus and follow Him. When we do that, we become part of God's family. We find our purpose in this life. God promises that He will help us face our problems and after this life, He will take us to be with Himself for ever.
Don't let your suffering and troubles drive you away from God. Let them draw you towards God. He gives us strength to endure and hope for the future.
If you need more help to know Jesus, talk to the person who gave you this recording or seek out a pastor or Christian friend. You can even just talk to Jesus. You can't see Him, but He will hear you. Tell Him you are sorry that you have not lived His way and that you want to live for Him. Ask Him to forgive you for all the wrong you have done and for having gone your own way. Tell Him that you believe that He suffered and died for you, and ask Him to come into your life and make you a new person.
Then when you have done that, make sure that you find some others who follow Jesus so that you can encourage each other to learn about Jesus and live His way. {Music}

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