This question troubles us all whenever we see the innocent suffer. C.S. Lewis has written a great book on it called The Problem of Pain, but there is a noticeable difference in his academic and theological approach when contrasted to his personal response of grief when his wife tragically died in a book he later wrote called A Grief Observed. Suffering is always more difficult when it becomes personal. The truth is that in those times, no rational response satisfies the heart that needs comfort and understanding. Only the Holy Spirit can bring a peace that passes understanding. He often uses the embrace of others who express the love and sorrow of God for those suffering. It also helps to transform the question from “Why is this happening?” to “What now is my relationship to Thee, Oh God.”
Even when God feels so distant, the truth is, He is closer than we can imagine. I’ve discovered my times of suffering have become some of the times I have felt the closest to God when I look back on them. The perspective of Scripture also gives us hope and understanding. Genesis reveals the creation of a perfect world with a sinless man. Yet, when sin entered as a result of the free will of man, death entered because of sin, as well as sickness and pain. Theologians call it “the fall”. As a result, we live in a fallen and broken world that God will one day recreate. There are times bad things happen to good people and it is no fault of their own. John 9 records the story of a blind man whom Jesus said was blind, not as the result of any sin, but that the works of God may be revealed in him. Sometimes bad things happen to good people because of the mistakes of others and at other times it is the result of Satanic attack.
When bad things begin to happen in your life, it’s a good time to seek wisdom from God as to whether this pain is a result of sin, Satan, others, or the natural causes of living in a fallen world. It’s also an important time to reflect on the promises of God. Romans 8:28 (NIV) “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” He didn’t say that all things were good that happened to us but that God works for the good of those who love Him. Jesus warned us that we would have trouble in “this world” but to be of “good cheer” for He has overcome the world and has promised us a new world to come where there will be no suffering , no sorrow, no pain and no Satan! How awesome will that be?
//Theological Thursday: Questions are welcome. Asking them makes our faith personal and real. On Thursdays I will be answering theological questions. Enter yours in the comment box below and I will select one each week to answer on our blog.