Summary: Is there an aswer to the cause of suffering? The worlds philosophys either deny the reality of suffering or say it must be dealt with until the release of death. The Christian worldview provides neither denial of evil nor disability in dealing with its
Intro: There are supposedly more Christians in the world today than ever before. There are more churches, Christian organizations, and ministries. Is our world the better for it? Morally, spiritually, socially it seems every place you turn the world is getting worse. Libya, Egypt, the Middle East suicide bombers, relational breakdowns. Sunday school answers and sermon one liners are not enough today. So what do we need? We need to ask the Holy Spirit of God to incarnate the character of Christ in each of us so that as the whole body of Christ will shine as light in the darkness.
Are we dissatisfied with our current level of spiritual growth and intimacy with God? Paul was. He said powerfully in Philippians 3.10 “[my goal] I want to know Him and experience the might power that raised Him from the dead, I want to suffer with Him, sharing in His death.” NLT
Suffer with Him are you nuts I want to share authority and power in the kingdom to come but suffer. Yes to share in His passion his suffering.
Suffering is a reality of millions if not billions of people around the globe daily. Why would Paul say such a thing? I want to know the power of His resurrection? I want to share in His sufferings or His passion?
That I may know Him; in the Greek know is the word ginosko, which doesn’t mean to know about but to know personally based on experience. (How do I know Tina and I were called into foster and adoptive ministry? God spoke to us and we experienced His call separately and together) Do you want to know what it is to suffer with Jesus? Answer the call to take care of children who are hurting.
This knowledge is the way a husband knows his wife, the way a mother knows her children, the way life-long best friends know each other. So tied to this experiential knowledge of Christ and power for living, power of the Holy Spirit to incarnate Christ’s life in us is suffering.
Many point to the fact of suffering not as a reason to not believe in God but the reason. George Barna poll asked this question, “If you could ask God only one question and you knew he would give you an answer, what would you ask?”
John R Stott,
“The fact of suffering is undoubtedly the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith, and has been in every generation. Its distribution and degree appear to be entirely random and therefore unfair. Sensitive spirits ask if it can possibly be reconciled with God’s justice and love.” The Cross of Christ 1986, 311
So before we deal with suffering from a Christ centered standpoint how does the world deal with suffering? Do any of the other world religions have a satisfactory answer?
I. Non-Christian (Theist) view of suffering and evil
I believe that if you examine clearly and thoroughly the claims non-Christians and their response to suffering and evil you will find frustration, futility, and a purposeless life.
Atheism has nothing to offer anyone who is in the situation of suffering. Instead the claim is made that suffering just proves there is no all powerful, good God. The problem with approaching evil from this stand point is this. How can personality (who we are) and rationality (the ability to reason) come from an impersonal and irrational world?
Britain’s Anthony Flew renounced his atheism due to the complexity of the universe and his belief in the overwhelming evidence for intelligent design. After examining Richard Dawkins reasoning in The God Delusion, which said that the origin of life can be attributed to a “lucky chance.”
Flew said, “If that’s the best argument you have, then the game is over.”
Different forms of Atheism
This line of philosophy and thought focuses on man determining meaning in life. We are the center of our world.
Communism turns a deaf ear and blind eye to pain and suffering. Neither Carl Marx nor Engels or any Marxists have developed an effective answer to suffering. According to them there is no evil in the heart of man. The only evil in the communist world is that which frustrates the purposes of Communism. These are remedied by social and political organizations.
Many of the philosophies in this camp do not directly deny God but instead seek to not deal with the real problem of suffering.
1) Eastern religions
There is little or no attempt to deal with the reality of suffering. One way this is expressed is in reincarnation. Evil is denied by explaining that suffering is a result of wrongs committed in a prior existence. The only answer is to try by good works to be reincarnate to an even higher existence until at last one can escape the cycle of life and find oblivion through union with the great world principle.