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?