Lee Strobel presented a message as a response to the shooting in Colorado. I wanted to share some of his points as well as a few of my own reflections on that age old question: If God is a loving God, then why does He allow such suffering and evil?
In response to the pain in this world, Jesus Himself said that we would have pain. Pain and suffering as a result of the fallen state of this world is inevitable.
John 16:33; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In this present life we only have partial answers to tough questions. We do not possess the mind of God nor do we see through His eyes. We see but the moment and that moment encases us often with fear. We do not have the resources to peek behind that veil and see the big picture and the cause/effect relationships that only God can see. This naturally causes us fear and panic. But the above verse holds the key. Jesus says that He has overcome the world.
There is no satisfying intellectual answer to those who are suffering. We cannot enter a debate on the issue of suffering and have everyone leave with a sense of satisfaction.
What the suffering need are not intellectual answers. They need Christ. He alone holds the hope to overcome.
Strobel uses the analogy of driving through the fog and how the light of his car’s headlights were the only thing guiding him at the moment. He could not see past the fog but only what was illuminated right before him. This reminds me of the ‘lamp unto my feet’ that is talked about in Scripture. We don’t have floodlights. We have lamp lights. Our path may only be illuminated right at our feet. We take the steps one at a time as the light illuminates only the next step.
5 Points on Suffering taken from the video.
(1) God did not create evil. Man did by actualizing the free will potential given to us by God. In order to allow us to love, He had to allow us to not love. He created free moral agents. We exercise that free will for the good or the bad. Remember the hand that feeds can also kill.
When a child is born into the world, his parents know that he has the potential to do good or bad. Yet they still allow him to enter this world. Why? Because their prayer is that they will raise him with Godly standards and a correct understanding of love and that he will actualize that potential. Same with God. If He were to do away with all potential for evil, He would have to do away with us!
(2) God can use the evil done by man and bring good out of it!
I know this is the one we hear all the time. We may think this is just an answer meant to placate the masses, but it is true. Remember Joseph’s story in Genesis 50:20; “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Couldn’t say it better myself. Man has his intentions, but God has his own too. The ‘saving of many lives’ part really gets my attention. Only God knows the final outcome of the events that are happening right now. If we knew that our suffering was going to lead others to salvation, would that help us accept the momentary pain? Remember the Big Picture is only clearly seen by God. That is why He is God.
If God can draw good from the circumstances surrounding the cross, He can draw good from any circumstance!
(3) Suffering will one day cease and God will judge evil!
We have to wait for the ending but we too often get caught in the middle! God may be delaying for the sake of those who have yet to come to Him for rescue. That is true love. So in essence, delayed judgment is also a gift from God. 2 Peter 3:9; “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
(4) Suffering in this world will pale in comparison to our joy to come.
Present sufferings are just that—“present”. When these are put into context with eternity, the suffering seems lighter. I am not trying to make light of suffering but if we compare that with the joy to come for those in Christ, we will look back on that suffering as if it were but a vapor. This is the tough one but it is true. 2 Cor. 4:17;”For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
(5) We decide whether to turn bitter or to turn to God
Through Jesus’ suffering, He has conquered the power of death. Suffering does not have the last word.
The issue of suffering requires ‘not an intellectual explanation but the incarnation of Jesus Christ.’
Remember Jesus is there in the lowest places of our lives:
Burdened by Broken Relationships
SO WAS JESUS…………
We can run to His arms or flee from His presence. Once again, the choice is ours to make. Love must be freely given.