|Christianity was supposed to be about becoming like Jesus.|
|We went in the wrong direction.|
Why Does God Allow Suffering?
What is suffering?
|Suffering can span a range of sensation from a paper cut to being tortured. From the frustration of an inconvenience to the debilitating pain of cancer, life seems to offer one degree of pain after another.|
|We do not suffer
because God is negligent or uncaring. We suffer because we are selfish and
born into a world of sin.
Sin brought separation from God. As long as we pursue selfish desires, we
will suffer or at best achieve boredom. Happiness is only accomplished
through love and love is the diminishment of self.
Jesus is our perfect example of love that suffers for others. He paid the price for the sin of the whole world. When we trust in Him, we get not only the forgiveness of our sins, but also a new nature that is able to overcome selfishness.
God allows suffering because to stop it He would have to eliminate all evil from the earth and not one of us would survive.
|Suffering consequences of our actions and inactions|
|Most everyone is familiar with the category of suffering caused by our own actions. Most people in jail would says that alcohol was involved in the decision making process that resulted in their committing a crime. People can make decisions of significance like who to marry or what job to take even when sober and find that bad decisions can have painful consequences.|
|Most everyone can recognize sins that bring pain such as alcoholism, fornication, drug abuse, and criminal activity. However, what is often less recognized are the painful consequences of having failed to obtain wisdom from God or advice from older and wiser Christians. Going into old age alone and bitter because you didn't know how to or care to build a family on a foundation of Christ to resist the corruption of the world can be a consequence that brings pain often without even understanding exactly what went wrong.|
|Sometimes people with sincere faith can experience painful consequences. Even a seemingly faithful religious life can bring sorrow and suffering. Complacency, self-righteousness, and even self-indulgence can be often woven into the fabric of religious life. Jesus called this leaven. The Christian is responsible to judge his church and his leaders. Many Christians have been tricked into following a church rather than Jesus. There is a reason the Bible says that we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling.|
|The ultimate painful consequence is being separated from God for eternity. This is the fate not only of the wicked, but also of those who just were not interested in Jesus. It is through trusting in Jesus that we can avoid the consequences our sins deserve.|
|Our world is hostile to us.
Because of the first sin there is a curse on the earth so that man will have to earn his bread through hard labor.
|Our bodies are hostile to us.
The same curse that brought difficult labor also brought sickness and death.
|Our neighbors are hostile to us.
In this world of sin in which we now live we can expect to suffer from the desires of those who seek to enslave, steal, and exterminate.
|Christians can suffer more than most. One reason is that we are supposed to follow Christ. When we don't, we can be corrected. There are many paths to take in life. The Christian can be mislead, deceived, follow his own fleshly desires, or even just go inert. God does not want us to be useless or follow our own desires. As a result, when we get off track, we will often be corrected. This can take many forms and can often be quite painful.|
|The pain of correction can motivate us to quickly seek to be restored to the correct path.|
|And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. - Hebrews 12:5-11|
|Suffering to prevent sin|
|Jesus said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. There are some circumstances that can hinder our walk with the Lord and other circumstances that can aid it. Christians might find their path in life more difficult than others because otherwise we might respond to comfort and ease with self-indulgence and pride.|
|And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me-- to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10|
|Suffering to build character|
|The saying, "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger", isn't always true. All too often we come out of difficulty with pride in our own strength instead of gratitude to God for His strength. The key to suffering isn't strength or cleverness, it is perseverance.|
|And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. - Romans 5:3-5|
|Suffering to bring glory to God|
And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?" Jesus answered, "[It was] neither [that] this man sinned, nor his parents; but [it was] in order that the works of God might be displayed in him. - John 9:1-3
|For all things [are] for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4:15-18|
|Suffering for others|
|Every mother knows the frustrations of caring for children, keeping a house, and often maintaining outside employment. Built into the design of family life is the need to take up difficulty in order to benefit others. These are the first steps in learning how to surrender selfishness and show love.|
|Caring for elderly parents is another family obligation that can bring difficulty and even require great sacrifice.|
|When someone surrenders their entire life to care for others, it is an approximation of what Jesus did for all of us. Those who take on the burdens of others begin to show the light and love of Jesus in this sinful evil world.|
|Suffering for righteousness|
|Many Christians have been put to death simply for being Christian. We are told that Satan runs the world (for now) and that all who desire to live a Godly life will suffer.|
|The pain and suffering caused by sinful evil people will come to an end. We have the promise of God that the present evil world will pass away.|
|In addition to dying a painful death on the cross, Jesus had the sins of the world placed on Him. It may not ever be possible to understand the suffering that entailed. However, because Jesus endured the pain and suffering, we have the gift of salvation and do not come under judgment for our own sins.|
The solution to suffering
The unsaved world presupposes that human comfort is the highest ideal. To them the existence of suffering is proof that there is no God. Their idea of God would be an entity that would grant every wish like some sort of magic genie. Contrary to this widespread view that comfort is the ideal state of mankind, we can look to the lives of the rich and famous, lottery winners, rock stars, or celebrities to see how prosperity, comfort, and ease corrupts character, weakens the spirit, and leads to dissipation and perversion.
It is not ease or comfort that is the solution to the problem of suffering. It is hope, love, joy, and the peace that passes all understanding. It is how Christians can sing hymns as they are being burned to death. God gives more grace to the humble and suffering can bring us to a humility that we might not otherwise entertain.
Suffering will end when this world of sin passes away. Until then, Christians can exhort, encourage, and comfort one another. We can draw near our Lord and receive His sustaining grace. We can offer this light of truth and love to the world that seeks selfish comforts, ease, and plenty which only add to the sufferings of life.