Summary: This morning we are going to not only dust off the Bible, but we are going to polish it up and examine an earthly and heavenly topic that has intrigued human kind since the beginning. God and Human Suffering!
Sermon on God and Human Suffering
September 28th 2008
One day little Sara was helping her mother clean the house, which was odd in itself, because she never wanted to help do anything. Anyway, little Sara was dusting the tables, the chairs, the TV set, and just about everything that could be dusted. She was dusting the table when she saw a big Book. “Mama whose Big Book is this?” She asked.
“That’s God’s Book. It’s called the Bible,” said Mama.
“Well,” said the little Sara, “With all the dust it has on it, don’t you think maybe we should give back to God, cause we’re sure not using it.”
We teach that the Bible is the Inspired Word of God, and that Word is powerful. I’m not talking about church, or denominations, or even religion per say. I’m talking about the Bible. The Word of God changes lives, with demands that judge us, and at the same time engages us with promise, forgiveness, and hope—setting us free to love and serve. God’s Word informs us about the nature of earthly things and heavenly things. Therefore, it blows my little mind with so much on the line we allow it to gather dust.
We’ll this morning we are going to not only dust off that good book, but we are going to polish it up and examine an earthly and heavenly topic that has intrigued human kind since the beginning. God and Human Suffering! Maybe one of the most difficult combination of words in the Christian language, maybe even the entire English language—God and Human Suffering.
The question we sometimes ask is, “If God can, then why won’t God—simply put an end to all our suffering.”
What this Book will teach us is that human freedom and suffering are so tightly wound together, you cannot eliminate one (freedom) without eliminating the other (suffering). However, God’s Word also promises that suffering on this earth will not have the last word! So are you ready to travel to places many hesitate to go?
First of all, since I don’t have six hours or more to dissect all our readings today, I need to set up the story line, or plot. A slightly different version of the one we may have been taught, you know with the devil, the fall, kicked out of paradise version. Not that one, but a new version, still faithful to our nature and the nature of God.
For the most part we can all accept that someone, or something created, caused our existence. We call that Being—God. Now the Bible teaches that something special happen with the emergence of humans. They are given reason, freedom, able to ask questions, such as “Who am I? Who made me? What’s my purpose?”
Well, we are also taught that God gives to these/us questioning characters the good earth on a silver platter and only asks of two simple things. One—take care of my good creation and everything in it—including one another. And two—stay away from that single tree in the middle of the garden! Do not go after My knowledge. There are certain things you cannot handle. Trust that I will take care of you! Trust that I have your best interest at heart!
However, something/anything in God’s good creation is capable of tempting us away from that trust. In the story, it happens to be a talking snake, in real life it could be a talking friend, a deceitful bottle of Jack Daniels, or enticing 100 dollar bill. It don’t take much. And so we reach up seeking to be our own gods, and end up just like poor Adam and Eve—naked and ashamed.
We even see what happens when we get caught with our hand in the cookie jar—we normally do exactly what first humans did—We blame God, or others, or the famous one liner—“The devil made me do it!”
We learn in the story that Lindsey read there are consequences to our actions, our existance now becomes more difficult, we no longer have Dialogue God in garden. But interesting, we also see that our God does not abandon us. He takes care of our nakedness and shame and places us outside this garden—or better yet, in the real world. Yet some people try there entire life to return—The Garden of Eden—To that perfect place of Paradise.
But is that the case? If we do not allow 2000 years of interpretation to cloud our judgment—I think one might come to the understanding that the Garden of Eden was not a place of perfection, devoid of suffering, as some might teach.
I think we might come to learn that many of the elements of suffering are present in this so-call Paradise and seem to be built right into the fabric of creation itself. Not only that, but many of the so-called forms of struggle can actually lead us to fuller Christ-like life. Think I’m nuts? Maybe, but let’s reexamine a few things without blinders.