For this week’s Sunday Series post, I thought I would share some thoughts on one of the most common questions that I receive from teenagers. This is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to someone who asked me this question. I include this in my cliche series because it often gets the same boxed answer, risking losing some of the meaning in it.
For information about the current series, you can go to the first week post (here). I would be glad to use a verse from anyone for these Sunday posts.
“Man is born to trouble, as sparks fly upward” – Job 5:7
Sin: The Fall of Man
You cannot come to a proper understanding of this until you come to an understanding of the origin of evil. In Genesis 3 the devil, clothed as a serpent, deceived Adam and Eve into thinking that God was leaving them out of something. In doing that, they effectively broke fellowship with God and a curse (sin) was placed on them. No longer would man and God have such intimate fellowship because man chose to rebel against God.
Now, sin is a very significant problem.
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” – Romans 5:12
“But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.” – Galatians 3:22
Sin influences physical, emotional and spiritual factors of our lives. Without sin, we don’t die, there is no pain and evil isn’t a factor. But, we live in a sinful world. In fact, the world has disorder and problems because it has chosen to not follow God.
Why doesn’t God rescue people in harm?
We are not on puppet strings that God directs. He teaches us with His Word, He shows us the path we should take, but ultimately we must choose it. God can rescue people and there are times when He does. But, there are also times when innocent people get abused or harmed and God does not stop it.
Does that mean that God is not good? Well, no because God did not harm that person. Yes, true, He allowed it to happen, but He did not do it. God is not changed or influenced by any circumstances. We know exactly who He is based on His Word and we know that things people do to harm each other, are not His ways. Sinful people, do sinful things to other people.
God could have jumped in a long time ago and restored order. But, He wants us to choose Him. If there was no pain or suffering, we may have an even harder time trusting in Christ. If things are all good and perfectly taken care of, maybe I wouldn’t see the need for a Savior. Besides, God knows what suffering is. Imagine what it was like for God to watch His beloved Son, get punished in place of people who had rebelled against Him? And even at the most difficult point of Jesus’ earthly ministry, God did not jump in and save Him. Jesus even asked if there was another way but left it up to God by saying, “not my will, but yours be done.”
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8
There is heartache, pain and suffering that takes place. Jesus himself told us this would happen.
“In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
What about the justice of God?
The thing that we must realize is that justice may not be quite what we think. We may think that if someone is going through a trial or some sort of pain, that this is not a fair situation and therefore God should stop it. Well, what is fair?
In reality, we deserve to die.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6:23
Because we are forgiven in Christ, we have been shown grace and mercy because God’s justice was satisfied in Jesus Christ. So, maybe the question isn’t, why does God allow bad things to happen to good people, but why does God allow good things to happen to bad people?
“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:25-26
In the book of Lamentations you have the people lamenting (hence the name) over the affliction they are in. They are in exile, people are dead, others are starving and living in harsh conditions. But, even in that, look at what the people say,
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:22-23, 25-26
“Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins? I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: Do not close your ears to my cry for relief. You came near when I called you and you said, Do no fear.” Lamentations 3:37-39, 55-57
We don’t blame God for the evil around us; we look to Him as our hope in the midst of it. This world will always have problems, until all is finally said and done.
We must understand that God does have a plan in the pain. That God can redeem bad for good. The trick is to not get bitter and angry, but to persevere as scripture commands.
You want perspective in pain? Spend time with God.
“All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning. If I had said, I will speak thus, I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” – Psalm 73:14-17