"How Does A Good God Allow Pain and Suffering"
Why Does a Good God Allow Pain & Suffering?
A. There are many great questions that are difficult to answer and the question we have in this class is one of them. Why does a good God allow pain and suffering? It is often asked by a person who is going through pain of some type. While I would live to a quick answer, I can’t.
B. For us to be honest, no one but God could. Preachers, theologians and others much more knowledgeable than I have tried to answer this question to world that is skeptic about God to begin with. But that premise may be part of the problem.
C. If I don’t want to believe in something, I will not believe in it. There can be all sorts of rational teachings, but we can dispute most anything we want. So, I start by saying that if you are here and don’t have a belief that God exists, this short class will not give you what you are looking for.
D. What I want to do with this class is give some thoughts for you to hold on to in your faith when it seems like your world is crumbling around you. You cannot give an intellectual response to an emotional question. To do so glosses over the pain and hurt the one who is struggling has.
E. I also want you to know that I have personally walked through question because of circumstances in my own life. One that I will share with you took place 10 years ago. When my mother was 64 she was told she had pancreatic cancer. Over the next seven months she would try to fight it, but lost that battle. At the age of 65 she died to cancer. While in every other aspect she was very healthy, the cancer was more powerful than her human body could fight. I know that many of you have suffered far greater losses in your life, and I am not trying to compare suffering, what I want you to know is that most everyone here has suffered to some degree and faced this question.
F. There are two basic accusations that are made from a premise that God either doesn’t exist or is mean.
I. What If There Is No God?
A. The first question, “Your God must not be all-powerful” has the premise that there is no God. To come at the question of pain, suffering, and what we call “evil” without believing in a higher power leaves us with one answer.
B. It leaves us with the powerful rule absolutely. It is the law of natural selection of the fittest. The strong rule the weak. The lion chases down and kills the antelope. It’s not right/wrong it simply is. If there is no God, why should there be any question about pain and suffering, they just are.
C. I believe the evidence for a higher power is so great that I cannot accept that the strong eat the weak and survival of the fittest is all that I have can hope for. Something greater is there for me to help me understand this issue.
D. Deep within us we know that the natural section is not that answer. That there is right and wrong, moral and immoral, good and evil. But that deep understanding points to higher law given by a higher power. But if we come at this question of pain and suffering with a belief in God, then the second question, “Your God must not be good” needs to be examined.
E. The Bible is filled with stories of people who suffered. But as we start, I want to take us to one story that, for me, helps me to see how three people faced this question. Their names were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Their story is found in Daniel 3. (Tell story) READ Dan. 3:13-15. This is where it gets interesting for me. All they have to do is bow down. If God was such a great God, why would he allow such an evil man to hurt his people? Where is God in this story? Right now, we don’t see him and right now these men have to decide on what to do. READ Dan. 3:16-18. This doesn’t answer the question of God is not good enough, but it puts suffering into some perspective. Do I suffer because of my faith, and if I do, why is God okay with that? This story continues with the king so angry that he orders it seven times hotter. Now listen to what happens (READ Dan. 3:24-27). My point is simply this, God doesn’t leave you alone.
II. Possible Answers
A. I want to start with my premise. God exists. With that beginning point, I come to this question and one thing I realize quickly, is that God understands pain and suffering. He understands evil has an effect on people. What is God’s #1 priority? (To redeem or save mankind) For many people, their #1 priority is happiness. There is a difference between happiness and peace. I can be at peace in a storm, but I may not be happy about the storm or what I it brings in my life.
B. God’s Greater Purpose. Jesus is God in the flesh, and as a human, he faced pain, suffering and evil and God allowed it. But he did so for a purpose. What was that purpose? 1 Pet. 3:18. God’s greater purpose was to give you and me a way to spend eternity with Him. Understand God has a purpose and in some cases we get to know that purpose, but in other cases God has kept from us His reason as to why. It is not, is there no an answer; it is can we know the answer in our specific situation. Why did God allow my mother to get cancer and die? Others might ask, “Why did God allow my child to suffer?” “Why did God allow a drunk driver to kill or hurt a friend or loved one?” “Why would God allow someone to abuse me, hurt me, or bring pain into my life? What is His purpose for my suffering? God has a greater purpose at work and it may come through what I am facing.
C. Discipline. Let’s be honest. Sometimes my evil brings about a consequence I don’t like. If I act in a way that is against God’s teachings, I may face the consequences for my own actions. That’s not God’s fault; that is simply consequences to my actions. But God can use those natural consequences as a way to discipline me and bring me back to Him. Heb. 12:11. Discipline is never fun. Ask a child. Why do you discipline your children? Do they fully understand the type of discipline or even why you discipline them? After David understood the consequences of his sin, he was able to tell others about God’s grace. Ps. 51:13-17.
D. To increase YOUR testimony. I have experienced divine comfort in my life. I can’t explain it, I can’t fully describe it. What I know is that there are times when it I feel God’s hand of comfort and shelter upon me in the storm. Being blessed by God, I get to share that comfort that I have received from Him to others who need some TLC. Paul said this in 2 Cor. 1:3-7. Sometimes I face pain and suffering to increase my testimony.
E. Nature and Destruction. People sometime ask, “Why did God ever put a tree within the reach of Adam and Eve?” I answer with a question, “Does love demand the ability to not love?” Evil has come into this world we suffer for a season. The earth was created “good” but sin made things “corrupt.” In that corruption we face nature that sometimes brings about pain and suffering. Earthquakes, title waves, fires, or other devastation caused by nature are not necessarily acts of God as they are consequences of a corrupt world. Sometimes we face pain and suffering because creation went from the perfection of God to being affected by sinful man.
A. These answers are not going to satisfy many people who ask the questions we had at the beginning. It really is about the basis or the premise from which you view pain, suffering and evil. If you view it as a proof-text that God does not exist, then you need to accept that everything is relative in terms of evil, and natural selection is your focal point.
B. But, if you start with the premise that God does exist and desires to reward those who seek him, then one of the answers may apply to your situation. 1. God has a greater purpose than what you can see in your suffering. 2. My sin or the sin of others may be cause that brings about pain and suffering. 3. God can use may pain and suffering to help share his love and message. 4. Creation has suffered by man’s sin and natural pain and suffering now takes place. **5. But there is a truth I admit, we may never fully know (Deut. 29:29)