Sermons

Summary: Dealing with the problem of pain in the world

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As we conclude our series this morning entitled “Faith Has Its Reasons” I want to take up one of the most common questions raised to those who commit their lives to God: How Can I Trust in a God Who Allows Suffering?

On a philosophical level this is often referred to as The Problem of Evil. It might take the form of a question such as “If God is all powerful; then how can he allow evil to exist?

That’s a fine and fair question! But more than a philosophical question, it carries a personal dimension as well.

We all know something of the face of evil…the suffering so inherent to our human condition.

· A world in which nice people can feel painfully lonely.

· A world in which marriages can become battlefields…and the children often bear the scars.

· A world of crippling conditions…physically, mentally, emotionally…with us or around us.

· A world in which diseases such as cancer take too many we love too soon.

· A world in which parents die and our pasts feel lost; children die and futures feel lost.

And of course even the suffering of those far away doesn’t completely escape us!

· The hungry children in drought stricken countries we pray for…yet so many still die.

· The oppressed and persecuted…still beaten.

THE QUESTION WE CONSIDER THIS MORNING IS A QUESTION FOR ALL WHO HAVE WEPT AND WONDERED.

All of us who have been born as human beings are likely to weep and wonder at some point and in doing so, we share in a desire to MAKE SENSE OF SUFFERING.

Interesting thing about this process is that while some may find it causes them to question God …for others it causes them to believe in God.

I don’t intend this morning to solve the problem of human suffering, as much as to enlighten it.

For that is perhaps what we should really expect from God. We as finite creatures cannot expect to understand all that is involved in an infinite reality, but we can seek to enlighten our perspective.

How much light? Enough to live by.

Let’s consider a few points of light which God offers us…

1. The problem of evil…of suffering…is real!

This may seem obvious enough…but this is where the reality of the Bible stands uniquely on the side of our experience.

Most people think the problem of evil and human suffering is a problem for those whose view of the world is understood in light of God’s Word; without realizing that everyone hold’s a view of the world and each world view must evaluated in the light of reason.

· Atheistic-life is governed by chance, not order. Therefore there is no right, no wrong, and no evil. There is really no basis for complaining…nor for causes or compassion.

· Eastern worldview… involves two concepts;

1) Evil is an illusion, the problem is merely our perception…through enlightenment we can see this…and then pursue detachment from all desire which is the source of all suffering.

2) There is karmic justice. We are reincarnated according to past evil or progression. In essence, there is perfect justice. Whatever one experiences is the result of a perfect impersonal system of justice.

In contrast…BIBLE AFFIRMS OUR CRY.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning” Psalm 22:1 (cf. Jeremiah 15:18)

God respects honesty…Job got mad at God and meets with favor, for deep in his soul he is pursuing God. His quarrel with God is a lover’s quarrel. His apparent hate and rejection are born out of desire for affirmation and reconciliation.

The central arena in the book of Job is not the courtroom but the heart, and in the end those who cry out find themselves closest to God. (Job, Psalmist David, Christ.)

If we believe that suffering and injustice are real… and the Biblical worldview uniquely affirms this, we then want to understand: Where did evil come from? and What is God’s response? What’s He doing about it?

2. GOD DID NOT CREATE EVIL.

At first thought, it may seem like basic logic that if we assume God as the creator of all, He must have created evil, and be responsible for it… but …

God created everything, but evil is not a “thing.”

· We may think of a sword or a gun as evil, but the aren’t.

· Where is the evil? Evil is in the human will, the choice to harm, the intent.

· Even physical evil is not a thing. A paralyzed limb is evil but it’s not a thing like another limb; blindness…not a thing, but the negation of the good thing God created.

· Evil is merely the negation of good; it does not have actual existence it’s merely the “non” of something else.

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