This is a subject that leads many away from God. We see a lot of bad things happening to good people and we wonder "How can a good God allow or cause bad things to happen?". I, myself, have these questions from time to time. And I have been given the answer "Just have faith" or "There's no way to know what God thinks". And I have learned that this is usually a way for people to dodge the issue. Many times, these very answers lead people away from Christianity. First of all, God has given us the answers, in His word and learning to answer these questions strengthen you as a Christian. One wise man once put it this way: "Christianity is a step out of darkness into the light". I'm going shed light on this topic of suffering.
How it all started:
Let me explain where suffering comes from. Back in the beginning, the Bible describes the world made by God as perfect in every way. Humans were not selfish, there were no natural disasters, animals lived in peace with one another and there was no such thing as death. The Bible makes it clear that there was no suffering. God gave humans power over everything! But God told them not do a specific thing: eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (pretty long name to give a tree). Long story short, the humans eat from the tree and there are consequences. God punished them and gives them a list of consequences, most of the entailing suffering! You may ask, shouldn't Adam and Eve have asked for forgiveness and that be the end of the story? Let's think about that. If you were driving, and you passed through a red light and a cop catches you and gives you a ticket. As a Christians we understand that we should keep the law of the land. Disobeying the law is a sin. So feeling sorry for disobeying God, you ask Him for forgiveness. Furthermore, you go to the chief traffic cop and ask him to forgive you. What would happen if told him that you don't have to pay the fine because God and he (the traffic cop) forgave you? You would look really dumb. Whether or not there is forgiveness you would still need to pay the traffic fine. In the same way, God could forgive their sins but, they had to bear the consequences! The wages of sin is death!
Suffering makes us appreciate God
I don't know about you but when I see all the bad in the world, I yearn for God to come back. The Bible describes the most beautiful scenes of what will happen when he comes back. Scriptures like:
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG)
"No more hunger, no more thirst, no more scorching heat. The Lamb on the Throne will shepherd them, will lead them to spring waters of Life. And God will wipe every last tear from their eyes." "and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away"(Revelation 7:16-17; Revelation 21:4)
"They shall be My people, and I will be their God" (Jeremiah 32: 38)
Those scriptures teach me something. Suffering is temporary. Could it be that the Lord allows suffering so that when we meet him it is that more glorious? Doesn't it say “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you." (Matthew 5:4). Could it be that this is the reason the apostles embraced suffering and were willing to die for the Christ? EVERY MILLISECOND of your suffering is producing an eternal weight of glory for you!
Jesus Christ shared in our suffering
What the Bible shares with us, is that God didn't just look at us suffering from the outside, but He, Himself, became a part of it! God sympathised with us and suffered more than any of us will ever suffer. The message of the cross teaches us that Christ was persecuted, despite doing nothing wrong. He was crucified on the cross for the sins that you and I committed. He shared in our suffering to give us hope that we may be reunited with the Father.
So toughen up soldier! God knows and sympathises with your suffering. We forget that we cannot see the bigger picture at times. Trust me, sometimes it won't make sense and sometimes it may seem unreasonable, but God in His sovereign nature knows what He is doing! Your suffering is not in vain.
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