Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Brief Commentary on the Problem of Evil and Suffering

1 Peter 4:12, 16, 19 (ESV)

12 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. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

The Problem of Evil and Suffering
The Problem of Evil and suffering has been a thorn in the side of Christianity since the beginning. If God loves us so much and we are His children, then why does He allow us to suffer? If God is sovereign and in control of the universe, why doesn’t He stop evil and the suffering it brings?

Where was God on 9/11?
Why does God not stop the pedophile who rapes a child?
Why doesn’t God heal my husband like He has healed others?

Why does God let a plane crash?

These are the questions that people ask. And they are good questions that deserve good answers.

The Bible is clear that we will suffer. Even Christians. It’s just the way it is.

The Three Types of Suffering
There are three ways in which we all suffer. If you live long enough you will experience all the various ways of suffering. It’s not a question of IF but rather WHEN the suffering will come. How you deal with your suffering is up to you.

  1. Self-Inflicted Suffering - based on the choices you make.
  2. Evil Based Suffering - based on the choices others make.
  3. Natural Suffering - based on the chaos of Creation - tornadoes, etc.

Suffering and the Spiritual Dimension
No one in the whole Bible suffered more than Job. Read Job 1 and you will get a new perspective on what is really going on “behind-the-scenes” when it comes to suffering.

Let me share with you the following six truths from Job 1 regarding spiritual warfare and the role it plays in the problem of evil and suffering.

  1. Satan has access to heaven. Even though Satan has been kicked out of heaven in terms of it being his residence, he still has access.
  2. Satan has access to Earth. It is clear that Satan is free to roam the planet and that he is active in doing this and in meddling in the matters of human life.
  3. God controls what Satan does. Satan has to get permission to go after Job. Don’t miss this. While Satan has an agenda of destruction God also has an agenda for Job.
  4. God will not give you anything you can’t handle. God knew Job’s limits. Those limits were beyond what even Job thought he could handle but God knew Job better than Job knew Job. God knows you and your limits too.
  5. Satan doesn’t care about you, he hates God. You may be the target but you are not the focus. Satan went after Job in order to embarrass God. Of course, Job had no idea regarding this cosmic struggle going on. All he knew was that he was suffering. But there was so much more going on behind the scenes. And there is in your life too.
  6. God is counting on you. God was counting on Job to hang tough. To gut it out. God knew that the season of suffering would pass and God had a blessing waiting on Job. Skip to the end of the book and Job received back twice what he lost. God has a blessing waiting at the end of your storm of suffering too. Remember, God is counting on you!

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