Monday, November 17, 2014

Making Sense of Suffering

The Bible declares that God is:
Sovereign    Good    Active    Personal

Problem:  IF God is (all) good - righteous and just ALWAYS
AND, IF God is (all) Sovereign,
THEN  Why is there (so much) evil and suffering???

The question is ancient - ie:  Job - (probably oldest book in Bible)
                        common - ie:  Ruth
                     extensively addressed - Theodicy - defense of God's goodness in light of Evil & Suffering in world
       BUT - remains unanswered!!!

Clarify - On on hand there are many answers (reasons),  however, the question is never completely answered.  (not ONE answer)

No "1" answer.
Many partial answers.
BUT, the sum total of all the answers does NOT = 100%

Sample Answers in Scripture
1)  Retributive Suffering - (punishment for sinful behavior)
2)  Consequential Suffering - (because of FREEWILL)
3)  Character development - God is more interested in our character than in our comfort.
4)  Corrective discipline - example:  Father/child
5)  Redemptive Suffering - to lead to greater good
6)  Suffering for the manifestation of God's glory - ("that you may know") - tragedy so people will know that God IS.

Put these all together and might be satisfied --- until we encounter "senseless suffering"

So...... the believers' response to evil and suffering?

#1.  Admit your confusion - example:  laments - over a third of the Psalms - Psm. 22:1
Be honest with your pain and with God.  He already knows how you feel anyway.

#2.  Accept the Mystery (of suffering)  AS you accept -- God's eternalness, creation ex-nihilo, virgin birth, incarnation, resurrection, prayer, new birth..
Cannot have transcendence w/o mystery - if finite human mind could explain it all, would have no need of God.
Because we have no answer doesn't mean there is no answer.  Isa. 55:8-9
He has chosen not to answer for various reasons.

#3.  Continue to trust the One you've come to Know.
John 6:66-69, 2 Tim. 1:12 - I know Whom I have believed, Job 13:15
Don't let what you don't know trump what you DO know!!!
Deut.  29:29 (reverse) - 'the things that are revealed to us (in special revelation - the Bible) belong to us, but the secret things belong to the LORD'

#4.  Continue to walk - (to live and lead a Christian life)
        in faith - (trusting, believing)
        in expectation - (Revelation)
        without all the answers
Mark 9:24

He is righteous, He is just, and He will make all things the way they should be.

Is it wise to deny the Person of God because of a Mystery we cannot solve?

Which is greater?  More valuable?  - The Answer or the Presence?

2 Pet. 1:2-3

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