A Christian and a Sikh View of Suffering

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As nurses, it is essential to understand that culture and religion are not exclusively defined by spiritual practices such as religious rituals and festivals (Cullen, 2016).However, culture and religion is something that can be influenced by environmental changes in which someone lives such as the social or political environment (Crooks, 2015).The Christian faith originates from the teachings of Jesus Christ that emphasized on loving and caring for the needy and ministering to the sick and dying. Shelly (2006) argues that the primary purpose of a Christian nurse is the desire to be like Jesus, to serve others without expectations of any reward, but with a heartfelt love of God. Call to care declares that nursing is a calling, giving nurses a foundation for understanding their mission and living out their vocation (Shelly, 2006).

 Christian nurses believe that patients are surrounded by an unjust environment that causes their suffering (Gabbay, 2017). Concerning the Bible, where God placed humans in all forms of environmental conditions from the beginning of Genesis, Christian nurses strive to create an unjust environment for their patients, away from sufferings and social injustice (Shelly, 2006). The Christians view death as a state of rest from the sufferings of the world. “That are fallen asleep in Jesus,”(1 Thes. 4:14).  Death is also a blissful reunion with loved ones as Jesus mentioned when he said that many would sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, on a Christian worldview, the nature of George’s diagnosis and suffering is no different to the suffering that Abraham or Jacob underwent.  Christian suffering is a passage that all Christians must pass through, “through many tribulations, we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The mention of entering the kingdom of heaven is a revelation that there’s a higher beyond that all Christians must enter. George’s suffering does not mean it is the end of his happiness as he has not yet reached the New Jerusalem where there’s no pain nor death.

However, as humans, certain sufferings are portrayed as a punishment, like in the case of George. As elaborated, a patient with ASL is as good as dead. The Christian worldview tries to give Christians an understanding of their suffering through referring to the scriptures. From the writings of apostle Paul, “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Suffering does not manifest itself in one stripe. It is only when you understand that pain is all Christian that you will stop feeling a burden to those helping you during your distress. The Bible reminds Christians to bear one another’s burdens as Christ did and that suffering is a battlefield that prepares us for more glory. Hence George suffering should be perceived as a battle for his soul; his physical disability is not the end of his glory days on earth but a beginning of the eternal glory. 

The Sikh worldview of life and death is that both birth and death go together. The Sikh believe in the cycle of rebirth whereby joy and suffering are inseparable and that suffering is a result of both inner and outer forces. The internal forces or ego-centeredness is intervened by following the nam-simran

(the Divine Name recitation), a path taught by Guru while the external forces such as political or social suffering may be intervened through seva, a selfless performance that includes helping the needy or protesting against political injustice. The Sikh perceive salvation as paradise achieved when one does good deeds in god’s name to the community and it takes reincarnation for one to become a Sikh (Cullen, 2016). The ultimate goal for a Sikh is to merge with god, which is achieved through daily prayers and performing good deeds.

In the case of George suffering, Sikh faith believes that suffering is part of life that helps build character and strength. “Unto whom should I tie up and give the bundle of my pain? The entire globe is overflowing with pain and suffering” (SGGS p. 767). “Suffering is the medicine, and pleasure the disease, because where there is pain there is pleasure, there is no desire for God" (SGGS, p.469).  Different people suffer different pain in their lifetime and its only through meditation and spiritual understanding thus suffering succumbs. According to the Sikhs, suffering is a gift that offers one an opportunity to connect them to their deep-rooted truths. It’s through suffering that one can question his or her purpose in life. The Sikh believe that suffering ends if only one accepts it’s the will of God. The theories of Karma and Samsara may help answer the question as to why George is suffering, “As someone sows, so he reaps” (SGGS P.303). Further, Guru quotes, “Those who come, must go in the end; they come and go, regretting and repenting. They will pass through 8.4 million species; this number does not decrease or rise” (SGGS P. 936). Accordingly, George suffering may be as a result of his past deeds or for reincarnation.

On the concept of the value of life, Christians believe that God is the giver of life and that humans are created in God’s image adds depth to the devotion of a Christian as a believer. “Whoso sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Genesis 9:6). Further, the bible tells us that Jesus died for all which makes all lives important and valuable. As an ASL patient, Christians would view George’s life in the perception of quality as the scriptures justify that the quality of life varies in degrees of enjoyment. “To some come the blessing of wealth, health, prosperity, and popularity; to others the burdens of illness, handicap, and hardship. In most cases, theirs is a blend of blessings and burdens. But in all circumstances, we are encouraged to learn contentment” (Philippians 4:11-13). On the other hand, the Sikh faith provides followers with specific ways of life and Guru’s teachings. The Guru teachings emphasis on equality and service to others. The Sikh faith encourages followers to accept illnesses and death as part of life and God’s will, and in George’s case, meditation and prayer is the way out of the disease. The concept of reincarnation makes George’s life valuable in all aspects.

The Christian faith is against euthanasia with the fundamental argument being that God is the giver of life and that we are created in His image. Also, they believe that the process of dying has some spiritual significance as it symbolizes the movement of spirits towards God. Further, the Bible reminds Christians to bear one another’s burdens shows that as Christians it is essential to provide the end of care life to patients like George. However, certain exceptions are put into considerations like in George’s case. For instance, the requirement that Christians should respect other people’s decision may support euthanasia if it is the patient’s will. Also out of fear of the pain of seeing a loved one suffer may support the idea. The Sikh is also against euthanasia as they highly value life and perceive euthanasia as an act that interferes with God’s timing. Sikh ought to accept suffering as it is karma operation of trying to bring the best out of the situation. Further, Sikh teaching emphasizes on caregiving to the less fortune which overrules the thot of euthanasia.

Both Christianity and Sikh faith is against euthanasia for similar reasons. They both consider life as a gift from God and insists on caregiving to the less fortunate. Therefore, in George’s case, the family and the community need to be supportive in all kind of ways throughout his suffering period (Gabbay, 2017). Also, prayer and meditation are vital in the process and what matters is George finding a purpose and reason for his suffering.

Therefore, religion plays a significant role in the provision of healthcare to patients especially in a case involving death and dying. Nurses need to ensure that they provide the appropriate services to a patient without offending their religious beliefs and practices.


Crooks, R. H. (2015). Introduction to Christian Ethics. Routledge.

Cullen, J. G. (2016). Nursing management, religion, and Spirituality: A bibliometric review, a research agenda, and implications for practice. Journal of nursing management, 24(3), 291-299.

Gabbay, E. (2017). Spirituality and Religion Within the Culture of Medicine: From Evidence to Practice.



Shelly, J. A. (2006). Called to care: A Christian worldview for nursing.

The Bible. (n.d.).

October 13, 2023




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