Summary: No answer can completely answer this most difficult question of life. I this sermon we consider some things about God and the world He created, we consider the reasons for suffering, and we consider how to cope with suffering.
A. There is a scene in a British movie where a young brother and sister had experienced the death of their beloved kitten.
1. The children had prayed fervently that the cat would get well, but unfortunately, it had died.
2. The children couldn’t understand why this had happened, so they went in search of their church minister.
3. They found him in his office enjoying his tea and newspaper.
4. They asked him, “Why did God let our cat die?”
5. Although he was not too happy to be interrupted with the matter of a deceased cat, he laid aside his paper and launched into a long, complex, theological answer to their question.
6. The children stood there and listened intently, and when he finished his explanation, the minister dismissed them and went back to his newspaper.
7. On the way back home, the little boy said to his sister, “Well, I guess the minister doesn’t know either, does he?”
B. On February 15, 1947, an airplane bound for Quito, Ecuador crashed into the 14,000 foot tall jagged Colombian mountain peak called El Tablazo.
1. Everyone on board the airplane died, including a young American named Glenn Chambers who was headed to Ecuador to begin his ministry in missionary broadcasting.
2. Before boarding the plane earlier that day, Chambers had hurriedly scribbled a note to his mother on a piece of paper he had found on the floor of the terminal.
3. The scrap of paper was part of a printed magazine advertisement with the single word, “Why,” sprawled across the center.
4. In the note that he wrote around the word “why” in the middle, he spoke of his lifelong dream of reaching souls through a radio ministry.
5. He wrote that more letters would soon come, and he stuffed the note in an envelope and put it in the mailbox.
6. But there was no more to come. Between the mailing and the delivery of Chamber’s note, El Tablazo snagged his flight and his dreams from the night sky.
7. The envelope arrived later than the news of his death. When his mother received it, the question burned up at her from the page – Why?
C. “Why” is the question that hits first and lingers longest.
1. Why? Why me? Why this? Why now?
2. Why do bad things happen to good people?
3. How can a good God allow so much suffering to occur?
D. We are in a series called “Got Questions? Answering Faith’s Great Questions.”
1. Why I set up this series back in November, I struggled with where to place this sermon in the order of sermons.
a. Even on Monday, as I began preparation, I wondered if I should move this sermon to after Christmas.
b. As usual, my sermon was completed on Thursday before Friday’s tragic event.
2. Today’s question is one of the hardest questions, because it is one of the most personal.
3. Lee Strobel, one of the people we mentioned earlier in our list of famous unbelievers who became believers, commissioned a national survey that asked people what question they wish they could ask God to answer.
a. The number one response was: They would ask God “Why is there suffering in the world?”
E. We are all too familiar with suffering in the world.
1. There are famines, earthquakes, tornados and hurricanes which result in suffering.
2. There is war and slavery and genocide.
3. People lose their jobs.
4. People die from disease and accidents.
5. Families lose everything in fires.
6. Drunk drivers kill entire families.
7. Families are torn apart by abuse or adultery or divorce.
8. Terrorists blow up buildings like on 9 -11.
9. And there are senseless killings like what took place on Friday in Newton, Conn. At the Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and at least 4 administrators and teachers were murdered.
F. These are very hard realities and the questions that are raised are legitimate, and they are not easy to answer.
1. I want to be very careful that I don’t talk to glibly about this age-old mystery.
2. I wish I could stand in God’s shoes and completely answer this question, but I obviously can’t.
3. As you will see, I think there are many good ways to answer the question, but none of them completely answer the question.
4. In the end, we will have to realize that in this world, we will never fully understand all the mystery surrounding suffering.
G. Today, as we try to answer the question: How could a good God allow suffering, I want us to consider several other questions.
1. We will consider the question of who – Is God All - Powerful and Good?
2. We will consider the question of why – Are there good reasons for suffering?