PAIN AND SUFFERING
There is a strong element of bewilderment surrounding the matter of pain and suffering. C.S. Lewis wrote, “It is so difficult to believe that the travail (troubles) of all creation which God himself descended to share, may be necessary in the process of turning finite creatures into …heavenly beings.” (Romans 2:19-22)
Our attitude toward the big questions of life, including pain and suffering, are influenced by our personal worldview. Do we believe that there is a God who created and upholds the world and who created human beings in his image? (Psalm 75:3) Or do we hold that the universe is all there is and that there is no supernatural being who holds the world in his control?
Today’s events have caused more people than ever to begin to ask the big questions of life. They are demanding answers to questions like: “If a loving God is in control, why is a deadly pandemic stalking the world – and an unprovoked war claiming so many lives? Why is there so much injustice and suffering?”
To put pain and suffering in context, we must accept the difference between God’s ideal order and what He actually allows. God’s ideal order is no sin, no sickness, no devil, no war. What He allows – is things as they are!
We also must understand that pain and suffering stem from two distinct sources. One is natural evil and the other is moral evil. Natural evil is suffering because of natural disasters and diseases over which humans have no control. This would include things like earthquakes, floods, diseases, cancers, pandemics, etc. Moral evil, however, is suffering for which people are directly responsible - like acts of hate, violence, terror, war, abuse, murder, and so on - all the result of greed, selfishness, pride, and sin.
These two sources of evil can be illustrated in the example of two cathedrals. Both lie in ruins. The charm and beauty that once mesmerized people who visited them have vanished. All that is left is a pile of rubble and heartbreak.
Christchurch Cathedral in New Zealand lies devastated because of an earthquake and the tectonic shift of the earth. Whereas the Coventry Church in England lies ruined by the bombings of a world war. Pain and suffering were connected to both, however, the reasons were vastly different. One is the result of natural evil and the other is the result of moral evil or sin. One is the result of a world condemned by sin. (Romans 8:19-23) The other is the result of a world corrupted by sin. Both continue to wreak havoc on man leaving many marred and in misery.
Holding a worldview that there is a loving God who ultimately will work out all things for good - produces within us a hope that cannot be shaken. Paul said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:18) He quotes King David in Acts 2:25-26 to offer a personal word of testimony. “I see the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope.” Our attitude toward pain and suffering is managed by a worldview that insists – God has everything under His ultimate control. (Daniel 4:17; Psalm 145:13)
Be blessed my friend.
The Barnabas Group / Loads of Love