Thursday, January 19, 2006

Suffering (Acts 12)

Acts 12 opens up with a painful blow to the early Church. King Herod ruthlessly begins persecuting Christians and gains support from Jewish leaders. James is put to death by the sword and Peter thrown into prison. Troubling times no doubt. I imagine the early Christians asking each other, “Why is God allowing such bad things to happen?” Legitimate question, one I too have asked. However, the early Christians didn’t cower or run from this question, they continued to embrace God and speak justly of Him during suffering.

This week I want to begin talking about why God allows bad things to happen or why God allows evil and suffering in this world? It’s a question many ask and still seek an answer to. Some claim it as their number one reason for not believing in God. My hopes as we endeavor through this, are that we learn something new about God and how good and loving He really is towards us. He is perfect in His love towards us and He never wills us to suffer. It was never a part of His original plan for us. But nonetheless, evil and suffering exist in our world today.

Why does God allow evil and suffering in this world?
Thinking deeply about evil and suffering allows us to see that it ultimately points back to one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity, free will. Because of God’s love for Adam and Eve He created them to be completely free. In the Garden of Eden God allowed man and woman to make choices. They could choose to be obedient to Him and His one rule (not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil) or they could choose to be disobedient.

In Genesis 3 we see Adam and Eve exercising their free will. They were tempted by the Serpent and chose to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God didn’t step in and stop them because He gave them the choice. How could He have granted them total freedom if He didn’t allow them to be disobedient? And so we see it was from one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity (free will) that evil emerged. Human freedom gave birth to the evils from which suffering transpired. So we discover God permits evil, suffering, pain, and death in this life because He granted us free will.

Think about it this way, a god who feared evil would not have let it exist. But our God who is all powerful (Omnipotent), all knowing (Omniscient), and everywhere (Omnipresent) is unshakable in His sovereignty (Rule over entire Universe) even amongst evil. So firm in fact, He came to earth, lived among us, and remained the unblemished Lamb who never sinned. If God didn’t permit evil and suffering, His coming to earth, living a perfectly holy life, resisting sin, and dying for us would be meaningless. He brings hope to humanity by redeeming us to God through His blood.

So, why does God allow evil and suffering in this world? Because He gave us total and complete free will. And it couldn’t be called free will without the ability to choose freely right or wrong. And it was our wrong choices that let evil, death, suffering, and pain into our world. Now it becomes much clearer as to why humanity needs a Redeemer (Jesus). Thank you God for free will and redemption!

- So, what are your thoughts on all of this?
- Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- Why does God allow evil and suffering in this world?

P.S. Next week I’ll be back to talk about how God uses suffering to help us become more like Him.


SlimDuck said...

I totally agree with you. I see pain and suffering as tools God allows us to endure for His glory. Would any of us be where we are today if we had not gone through difficult times? I doubt it. Ultimately pain and suffering are transformed into experience and wisdom.


Cecily-Sue said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cecily-Sue said...

hey tim, Cecily Here...i enjoy reading your blogs because normally i dont get to come to church on wednseday nights... by reading these i get to know what everybody else heard and i also get a spiritual feeding...i read them here at school and getting a little "sermon" in the middle of the day helps to keep me going...the blogs are a great idea...keep 'em coming

Tim Sheets said...

Appreciate the comments!

Hope this will give everyone a chance to go a little deeper in Scripture and the things of God. And maybe a chance to voice some of your own thoughts and questions you didn't get to ask Wednesday night.

The articles will keep coming (every Thursday). Thanks for reading and responding!


slony said...

Another fine entry. Keep em coming...

Christy said...

Tim that was a very well put together article. I admire your courage to tackle such a tough question. Love you!

norwelltennis said...

It's amazing for me to look back and see how suffering has led me to a deeper relationship with God. In the book of Job this is so true. It's a lot like Pastor Larry spoke about this morning. Many times when things get tough and God feels distant and suffering may occur, He is usually right back where we left Him.