Friday, January 17, 2014

Why do people suffer? By Sarah P.

Why do people suffer?

By Sarah P.

Why did he die? Why does she not like me? Why do they not have enough to eat? Why did God let that happen? Why was he born like that? Why?

If there is a God, then why do people suffer? This is one of the most confusing questions people have asked and will ask. Well... this requires a complicated answer, but for now, let's take a look at what the Bible says.

First of all, people suffer for their consequences. We have all sinned, and the wages of sin is eternal death. Romans 6:23a says, "For the wages of sin is death...." When we sin, there are consequences. Not only are we forever separated from God, we also receive punishment for what we've done. This is just, because God is just. He is fair, and so if we refuse to accept His gift of eternal life, we receive just what we deserve. Christians also have to suffer for their consequences. When David committed adultery, even though he repented and was forgiven, he had to suffer the consequences of what he had done. Even if you technically don't get "caught", your sin will catch up with you in the end; unless you repent. If you do repent, you still might have to suffer the consequences of your sin. (For more on this, see Galatians 6:7-8)

However, suffering is not always caused by someone directly sinning. There are many examples of this, both in the Bible and in today's world. Why are people born blind? Why do whole continents full of people die from thirst? Why do billions of people starve every day? Why does God let this happen? John 9:1-3 has an example of this, and shows what Jesus tells us. It says, "As He [Jesus] was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples questioned Him: 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' Jesus answered. 'This came about so that God's works might be displayed in him.'" (Emphasis added, HCSB). As the story continues, Jesus heals the man, but that's not the point. What Jesus said is what matters, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned... this came about so that God's works might be displayed in him." Many people get confused here. So... does that mean suffering is a good thing? Well, not exactly. In fact, suff ring is not a good thing by itself. Suffering is not, was never, created by God. Look at the beginning of the book of Genesis. God's creation was perfect and sinless. There was no pain in the Garden of Eden. There was no suffering. So what happened? Adam and Eve sinned. And that brought suffering down on them, their grandchildren, and everyone else that would ever be in the world; that was the punishment of their sin. Satan sinned even before that when he rebelled against God.

So how does the story of the blind man have anything to do with this? Does that mean that someone had to have done something wrong for the blind man to be born like that? Not at all. Think about this. Remember, God didn't create suffering. The first suffering started way back when Satan rebelled against God. Satan suffered the consequences of his sin, too; he still does. However, God can use something bad for His glory. Satan is the prince of this earth; he still can cause bad things to happen to us. Look at the story of Job. God can and does intervene, but sometimes He chooses not to. Sometimes He chooses to let people be born in a way we don't understand, to allow us to suffer the consequences of living in a fallen world and being fallen people. No, this isn't easy to understand. Someday, in heaven, we'll know all of the answers, but until then, we simply won't know everything. That might be hard to accept, but we have to have faith that God really does know best.

Using that thought, consider God's character. Has He ever done anything wrong? No, He's perfect and sinless. Has He ever failed to do what He should? No, God is always here for us and will help us in times of trouble... in His own time. No one down here on earth completely understands suffering. But we have to have faith that God knows best! Even when it doesn't look "fair" to us and we complain... remember that we are complaining that God; the righteous Judge; the Creator of "fairness" itself; isn't doing what we think He should. That sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? It is! We should not doubt God, but we do.

So, why do people suffer? We suffer for the consequences of our sin. We suffer because we live in a fallen world. We suffer, but God helps us to grow and trust Him through the suffering. Yes, there are times when we just don't understand. Yes, there are times when we are angry that suffering exists and wonder why God allows so much of it to happen. We question God's love; it just doesn't seem logical that He could love us and still let us hurt so much! It doesn't seem right, but we have to trust God and know this; Jesus suffered. Jesus didn't sin! But He bore our sin to the cross and died so He could save us from hell. He loved us so much that He suffered so that we could be saved. Jesus loved us enough to suffer for us! Don't you think you can trust a God who cares that much for us to know what's best for us? We might not know all the answers, but He does. That's one of the lessons that suffering teaches us; we have to trust God!


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