Pain and Suffering - What does the Bible say?
The BIG QUESTIONS
If God is a God of love as the Bible states and as christians claim;
* Why did He let my baby son die?
* Why was my innocent daughter killed by a drunken driver when she was in her prime?
* Why did my haemophiliac son die of AIDS through a blood transfusion?
* Why was my Christian fiance, the one man I loved with all my being, taken away from me by death through a painful extended fight with cancer?
*Why didn't God stop the tsunami wave on 26 December 2004 that killed 155,000 people "the poorest of the poor" in Aceh, Sri Lanka, India, Phuket, Bangladesh and result in over 5 million people being homeless? The third world's Poor and the first world's Rich suffered tremendously.
WHY GOD? WHY DO THESE THINGS HAPPEN? WHY?
There are no easy answers to any of these questions. Life is terribly painful and unfair for many people.
I'll make 7 points. Further helpful reading is listed at the end of this page.
Point 1 GOD is LOVE. This is a primary characteristic of God demonstrated progressively through the Bible. For more details see God's love. The Bible doesn't not detail why God allowed Evil into the world. The first reference to evil is the "Serpent" in the garden of Eden in Genesis 3 v1.
Point 2 Suffering to a large extent can be a direct result of either our own or other peoples sinfulness. (for example. Suffering caused by drunkenness, or greed, or uncontrolled lust, or envy, or pride, or rash or stupid actions in the heat of the moment, etc). God gives mankind choice, but this choice can result in either good or evil outcomes.
Point 3 Suffering can also be unrelated to our sin. (Acts of Nature, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, typhoons, mud slides, famines, health related or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time - ie. A plane and train accident resulting from human error or mechanical failure ) An example from the Bible is the man blind from birth in John 9 verses 1 - 3.
Point 4 Looking at the BIG PICTURE suffering is a direct result from the fallen nature of the world. Refer to Romans 8 verses 18 - 25.
In the beginning God created the world in a perfect state as detailed in Genesis 1. Verse 31 states "God saw what he had made and it was very good." However when Adam and Eve sinned "the fall of man" detailed in Genesis 3 major changes took place. The perfect creation became imperfect and subject to decay and turmoil. The planet we exist in today is subject to volcanic eruptions, movements of tectonic plates and wild weather conditions all resulting from SIN entering the world over 4,500 years ago. The planet earth, the created world, eagerly awaits the return of the Lord.
Romans 8 verses 18 to 19 state:- "I consider that the present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed."
Verses 20 and 21 state that " The creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay......We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.."
Point 5 God can use suffering to discipline and strengthen His children. Refer to Hebrews 12 verses 7 - 11 and Romans 5 verses 3 - 5.
Point 6 God understands what it means to Suffer. He gave up His Son , Jesus to die on a Cross for the world's sins. Christ became separated from His Father and took the weight of the world's sins upon himself. This act has had a significant affect on suffering in that everyone who believes can be forgiven and participate in a "New Creation." In this new Heaven there will be no suffering. Praise God!. Pain and suffering will not exist in heaven.
Point 7 At the end of the day when we just can't understand Why, we just have to TRUST and OBEY God and believe that he is in control and has some purpose in our pain and suffering. Easy to say. Hard to do!!. As Christians whatever happens to us on earth, no matter what suffering we endure, finally we will come under God's rest. Heaven is described as a place where suffering is no more. This is paradise our ultimate home away from the evils, pain, suffering and turmoil of this world. John in Revelation 21: v 3 - 4 states:-
"And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
Does God protect Christians from trouble on earth?
Sometimes Yes, sometimes No. The little Catholic Church in Sri Lanka where believers were worshipping God was hit fullon by the Tsunami. To my knowledge all believers were killed but we know they have gone to Paradise with their Lord and Saviour, Jesus. We don't why the wave hit at exactly the time these men and women were in Church. But it did.
Remember Romans 8: v 35 and 28
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?"
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him...."
As a final point we must believe and hold onto this truth.
"The Problem of Pain" by C S Lewis -- Fontana Books - Collins
"Where is God when it Hurts?" by Philip Yancey -- Harper Paperbacks
"If I were God, I'd end all the pain." by John Dickson -- Matthias Media, Sydney, 2002
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