Suffering…

Why does God “make” me suffer? – a line of reasoning

For me to answer this question thoroughly would take books, not a page of notes. But here is a thumbnail sketch of my answer to suffering…

* I believe in God
* I am a Christian
* As a Christian I believe in the Bible, I believe this because of its internal consistency and the external evidence that shows the Bible we have today is trustworthy
* Because I believe in the Bible I believe the answer to the dilemma stated (good God allows suffering) is found in the first three chapters of the Bible
* The Bible is infallible truth but I am a limited human and therefore I don’t think I have all the answers, BUT I can use God’s work to reason and seek understanding from Him
* These chapters tell me God created reality (the universe) and it was good
* Scripture also tells me that man is the pinnacle of God’s creation, made in God’s image
* The Bible also teaches me that God is HOLY (He is separate from the reality that He created, but is active in it)
* God gave man the ability to make decisions and gave him not only the ability to make the right decisions but the wrong decisions
* Humans (in Adam and Eve) chose the wrong way (this is the “fall of man”)
* God (who is just, and must deal justly with the actions of his creatures) corrected man with “the curse” which impacted not just humans but I believe includes natural phenomena such as floods, drought, earthquakes, etc.
* Man was cast from the garden and God’s blessing and is separated from God and needs redemption
* Humans are “fallen”, now must work, suffer, women suffer in childbirth, mankind now becomes sick and gets hurt and ultimately dies (these were not a part of God’s original plan)

Hence, humans suffer because of the choice of man’s forbearers, Adam and Eve (the fall) and his/her own continuing bad choices which are sinful (because of the fall: “we are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners”). The Old Testament tells us of the story of fallen man and his attempts to live life without God and the longsuffering nature of God who is shown to always be ready to forgive man.

God is merciful and immediately put into operation the means for humans to, through faith, believe in and trust God and ask God for help in this fallen world, this is seen throughout the Old Testament and culminates in the work of God coming to earth, in the person of Jesus (who is fully man and fully God, hence sinless).

Jesus came, lived, healed, taught, was crucified, died (this death pays for the sin that separates humans for God), was buried, and then rose again for man, so that

Man can have faith in God through Jesus and be reunited with God spiritually and be filled with God’s Holy Spirit when she/he believes

The Holy Spirit helps “redeemed people”: he comforts us and enables us to get through the tough times of life which will continue even though God is with us, tragedy does not depart from our experience…

The world remains fallen, God’s promise is to have a renewed personal fellowship with Him which will sustain us through life’s trials.

We have made a mess, God promises an ultimate deliverance and an immediate help to bring us through the mess.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Suffering…

  1. chris

    “The question of theodicy [the goodness of God] is a question asked by people who are not experiencing the suffering. People who are suffering don’t ask the metaphysical question, ‘How could a good God allow this?’ They ask, ‘Where is God?'” – Jurgen Moltmann

    “I do not know the answer to the problem of evil, but I do know love.” – Dostoevsky

    “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – Paul, the apostle

    Perhaps there’s not an adequate answer to the question of “why” with regards to the existence of suffering and evil… at least not an answer that will really satisfy those who are asking the question – or more importantly those who are suffering. Maybe our best answer is to learn to draw alongside and embrace those who suffer – not to minimize or attempt to rationalize their suffering, but rather to walk with them through suffering – to walk with them through their dark valley of the soul – to be the light of Jesus in the midst of the darkness of their suffering. Because as Paul said, one glimpse of Jesus and all the crap pales in comparison… I just wish it were easier in practice than in theory… Lord, help us!

    • Thank you Chris for this thoughtful comment. Many moons ago, I was called to the side of a mother who’s seventeen year old son had taken his life. I was the pastor of the church she had sometimes attended. There were no words for her. Nothing I could say would be appropriate. I was there. That’s all. Then I prayed. I asked for our loving God to bring the miracle of comfort in the midst of this brokenness. He did. Not right at that moment, but He brought her comfort in time. I remember one of my own moments of great loss. I cried out to God in anger, “Why?” He heard me, He was with me, He understood me. Later, as I looked at the body of my infant son, in his hand was a little booklet of Scripture. I took it out and it was opened to John 3:16. A flood of comfort flowed over me at that moment. I cannot explain this. But, I know that God answered my question with comfort instead of an answer. This post that we are writing about comes from years of thinking about the question, “Why does evil exist if God is good?” This post is a bit of my own answer based on my own beliefs about God and this world in and on which I roam. It is understood as it is written that it is incomplete for many. And it is not intended to be a cure all. But for some, at some point, perhaps it helps understand the world of hurt that surrounds us.

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