God's Peace in Pain and Suffering
Where is God When We Hurt?
This question is perhaps the most common question asked throughout history. While our faith in God doesn't necessarily depend solely on the answer to this question, it can cause some to doubt. The real question should be do we, as Christians, have the right to expect a life free of chronic or terminal pain.
Chronic and terminal,two words no one wants to hear when it comes to any illness. And many don't understand the difference between the two. Cancer is a chronic illness, but does not necessarily have to be terminal. It is often treatable and in some cases can be cured. A terminal illness is a disease that will result in the death of the patient regardless of any treatment intervention.
If God is Good, Why is There so Much Suffering?
Most of us have watched a loved one die, or afflicted with a painful chronic condition. Sometimes history looks like one long drawn out story of suffering and despair. Is there a purpose? To Christians, this question is especially important, since their beliefs are centered around God being all good and all-powerful.
Unbelievers often challenge Christians with this question. Their usual tactic is to confront Christians with the logic if God was good and all powerful he could present suffering. But since there is pain and suffering in the world you must not exist.
if God doesn't exist, our lives have no purpose, and no hope suffering can be eliminated. However, shouldn't we judge answers by truth, not emotion? We need to understand many of our theological views come from world problems and values. Many struggle with the problem because they reject a Christian worldview. Why we suffer may always remain a mystery to some. However, we can discern certain truths from God's Word.
If God loves us, why do we suffer?
This is a question that frequently arises during times of grief Christian or not, it's a question that comes up repeatedly during times of grief. during these times, we want to know our suffering matters to God. When we seek God through His Word and prayer, we find Jesus. Remember, Jesus understands our pain because He, too, suffered as one of us. If we turn toward God in our pain, He can use our suffering to mature our faith.
Suffering conforms us into God's image.
Some may be tempted to think God will produce good out of everything. But notice, we will be conformed to God's image through our suffering. Suffering is real, so there must be something we can learn from it. Suffering and pain tells us something is wrong. If it wan’t for the fact we suffer and experience pain, we wouldn't know when something is wrong.
Could it be God respects us enough to let our actions have corresponding consequences? Could it be God is allowing people to have a say in their own eternal destiny? God is looking for those who want to share His eternal goodness. That would be impossible if
we had no choice in the matter.
"For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake" (Acts 9:16).
No one likes to suffer. No one enjoys being rejected or hated. We fear the idea of being killed for the sake of Christ, or anyone else for that matter. However, if we are to faithfully follow the Lord Jesus we must be willing to share His suffering and rejection.
There is nothing about Christian suffering not already known to Jesus. It doesn't matter how we dress-up the world to appear sophisticated, we are all still sinners at heart.
What is Evil and Suffering?
It is interesting to note how evil and suffering are used in the same sentence so often.
Most don't consider their suffering to be a result of their own doing. For example, someone's child dies. Was it because they committed a sin? Although some might believe this way, wouldn't it seem unfair? Yes and no. Because bad decisions can sometimes result in bad things happening.
One could argue suffering is completely separate from evil. In the book of Job, we see suffering and evil is viewed in several ways: Job's situation tells us one can suffer and not be evil. The friend's perspective tells us suffering is caused by evil. God's position informs us God's justice ranks much higher in the big picture.
We should observe Job was more aware of evil than those who came to support him.We see his material wealth had not led him to pride, rather it deepened his sense of humility and awareness of sin. It was because of this awareness he proved to be a righteous man.
Suffering in Christianity
Christianity acknowledges the reality of suffering and many attribute it to the sinful nature of humanity. Suffering in this world is a reality. Jesus even suffered betrayal, indignity, torture and death. Mark 10:45 calls this suffering a "ransom for many," the "many" being those believing in the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. Suffering isn't alleviated by His teachings, rather it is Jesus that can ultimately relieve suffering in the kingdom of heaven.
No one likes suffering; it's merely endured. And there is not any easy answers for those going through it. Most of us are reluctant to speak about God's involvement in this matter. Perhaps it's because many believe pain clashes with their view of a God of love!
Jesus suffered pain every day. The many He saw suffering caused him much pain. Many would bring the sick and infirmed to His feet. Jesus understood suffering more than we ever will.
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