Thursday, October 16, 2008

Trials and Tribulations – Part 3

This is a continuation of a series of posts on suffering. After looking at the types of suffering and the causes of suffering, we’ll take a look at why there is suffering and evil at all. Note that some material in this post was based on the book The God Questions by Hal Seed and Dan Grider, published by Outreach Publishing, © 2007

Why Is There Suffering?

You may ask, why didn’t God create a world that didn’t have these kinds of problems – a perfect world.

1. The Garden of Eden

The answer is, God did create a perfect world without disease, sorrow, or death. But Adam and Eve failed the test, and all of creation became imperfect and subject to these kinds of evils as a result. To get back into a Garden of Eden-type of place called heaven, we have to first pass through this imperfect world and accept what Jesus offers us. What Jesus offers us is the opportunity to have a better life here and eternal life in heaven because he restores us back to our rightful position with God. The earth will still be imperfect, but followers of Jesus enjoy fellowship with God and God’s help and guidance in getting thru this life.

2. God Didn’t Create Evil

We have to realize that God didn’t create evil, but did create the potential for evil by giving us free will. As free agents, we have choices and we can make either good or bad decisions. Therefore, I don’t think we can blame God when bad things happen. Also, I don’t think that God has singled us out for severe punishment when we are going through a tough time (although it may feel that way). God isn’t saying, “I think I’ll squash so-and-so today and really make her life miserable. But God can use whatever bad things come our way for good, if we let him.

How Do We Cope?

How, then, do we cope with bad circumstances when they come? Everybody has different coping mechanisms, but let me give a few suggestions:

1. We are on Earth, Not in Heaven

First, remember that we are still on earth, not in heaven, and terrible things happen here, but God is with us through them as we read in John 16:33:

(Jesus said) “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” NLT

2. May Never Understand Why

Second, remember that we can’t always understand why these things are happening, often because there is no logical reason. Keep in mind the words of Proverbs 3:5-7:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. NIV

More on how to cope with suffering in a future post.

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