We continue our Question and Answer series with an article written by Josh Webb on "Why does pain and suffering happen?" Please check back for more answers to questions you may have.
When we look around the world today, our vision seems to be clouded by negativity and just plain bad stuff. It seems that cancer is getting stronger and taking more of our loved ones, people are attacking one another, and violence is prevailing. The world seems to be falling apart right beneath our feet. When all this is taking place we hear a few different things such as: 1.”pray for us” 2. “We’re praying for you” 3. “We need God” 4. “Where is God?” to name a few. I see so many hurting every day, and I have heard the statement, “If God is a loving and powerful God why is He allowing these things to happen?” John tells us in 1 John 4 that God is Love. John tells us that God is the definition of Love. If this is the case, the media sure does not make it seem that way.
I believe we use God as a scapegoat to cast all the blame on. Over the past few years I have looked in on the subject and have received serval bits of advice. In the next few paragraphs I’m going to give you some reasons that bad things happen. Although this list is not complete by any means, it may help you out!
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” – 1 Peter 4.12
If God is loving and powerful why do these things happen? Notice I did not say why does GOD make these things happen.
WE REAP WHAT WE SOW
Galatians 6:7-8 “Do not be deceived:God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life”
- I want you to think for a moment about life. 1+2=3, and no matter how many times you try to change this answer it will always be 3. Someone out of wedlock might be afraid to tell their friends and families they are pregnant and blame God for putting this pressure on them. When you have sex out of wedlock you have to chance of getting pregnant. You reap what you sow, if you take the chance and go against what the Bible says then it’s not God putting you in this situation. Another example could be when you look on the warning labels of tobacco/alcohol and see the surgeon general’s warning stating that this product could cause cancer, and 10+ years down the road you get cancer. Why would you blame God for you not heeding the warning? No matter how many times you plant a corn seed in the ground you will never get green beans.
WE LIVE IN A FALLEN WORLD
- When Adam and Even took part in the eating of the fruit in Genesis we see evil and suffering beginning. We understand that the temptation of this came from the devil. Everyday the devil is “prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5.8).” The devil is always on the look out to take someone down. Just like the lion looking for the weakest prey, we see the devil trying to get us in our weakest and most vulnerable time. When you think about when you hear the news of someone that has a terminal illness or something that bad has happened, it hurts us and puts us in a vulnerable time. This is then when the devil comes in and puts doubt in our lives.
- What if in our troubles we look for ways that we can glorify God? Others look to us and see that we still have faith and trust in God. The last part of 1 Peter 1:7 tells us that, “though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Think about the apostle Paul he tells us in 1 Corinthians that even though he has gone through all these trails God is still to be glorified. Paul’s life has been an example for to follow and we give God the Praise. In our troubles and heartache God can be glorified.
SHARE IN CHRIST SUFFERING
- Christ suffered so that we could be in Heaven one day. There is no way that we can ever experience the suffering He went through but we can be connected in that suffering. Our own trials can connect us just enough that we have the praise and respect for the things He did for us! Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:13 to “rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” Let us rejoice when we are faced with suffering because we then can appreciate the things Christ went through.
WE CAN HELP OTHERS
- When we go through things in life it gives us the experience. When then can take that experience and help others with it. Maybe you have dealt with death in you family, you can take that experience and help someone that is grieve the loss of a loved one. Possibly you have dealt with cancer or another illness you then can be a comfort and a shoulder to lean on for someone else that is dealing with the same situation. Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 1.3-4 when he says, ”Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Let us use our situations to help others.
This list is by no means a complete list of examples, but it is my hope and prayer that you find some comfort in this. I hope that you can use it to help you and pass it along to help someone else. The God we serve is a loving God, He is always there for us in every situation we are faced with. Our job is to go to Him. When you are faced with these situations find someone to talk to, go to God in Prayer, and listen to Him through the scriptures.
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Josh Webb is the Youth Minister at Riggs Church of Christ in Chapel Hill, Tennessee. He is also a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee.