Summary: Are you experiencing pain and suffering today? You are not alone. Jesus Christ suffered greatly. He died the most horrific death. If you are suffering today, draw closer to God and he will draw closer to you.
Turn your Bibles to Romans 5:1-5
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Across the globe…
- 6,525 natural disasters in just 10 years...1M people died in these natural disasters.
- 400,000 to 500,000 people murdered each year…1 every 70 seconds
- 90,000 Christians killed for their faith around the world …1 every 6 minutes
- 800,000 people commit suicide each year across the globe...1 every 40 seconds
- 1.1M die of AIDS related illness each year...1 every 28 seconds
- 1.7M die of lung cancer each year…1 every 19 seconds
- 3.2M die of a low respiratory disease each year…1 every 10 seconds
- 6.2M die of a stroke each year…1 every 5 seconds
- 8.8M die of heart disease each year
- 40+ M cases of child abuse and neglect occur each year...more than 1 every second
- 40-50 million babies aborted each year around the world...3 babies every 2 seconds.
That is a lot of pain and suffering in this world.
- Our crime index is 3, meaning Shawnee is safer than 3% of US cities…
- Chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime is 1 in 110.
- Chances of becoming a victim of property crime is 1 in 18.
There is a good chance you will become a victim of a crime in our city
“The atheist argues, "If God were good, He would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty He would be able to do what He wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore, God lacks either goodness, or power, or both."" (C.S. Lewis, “The Problem of Pain,” 570)
I. Why does an all-powerful, perfectly good God allow so much pain and suffering?
A. God's Divine Omnipotence
The word omnipotent comes from the Latin, omnipotens or ‘almighty’, 'all-powerful'.
Webster's defines it as, "Able in every respect and for every work; unlimited in ability; all-powerful; almighty."
Jesus said, "With God all things are possible.” ( Matthew 19:26)
Job said "I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:2)
The psalmist said, "By the word of the LORD the heavens were made…he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm." (Psalms 33:6, 9)
Dilemma#1: "If God is almighty, if God can do all things, and God created all things, then why all this pain and suffering?"
Consider this hypothetical situation. If a passenger were to tell his driver to turn right and turn left at the next corner, would a driver be able to do both? This is an obvious impossibility no matter how skilled the driver. In fact, a rational person would say that it is nonsense.
Now look at the all-powerful, divinely good God. If one were to ask God to lie, he would be unable to do so and remain divinely good. The rational person would say that this is also nonsense.
C. S. Lewis refines the definition of omnipotence to read, "Power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense. This is no limit on His power."
We must understand an all-powerful God in concert with all of His other divine characteristics and will.
This leads us to something called man's free will.
B. Man's Free Will
'Free will' is the freedom of humans to make their own choices.
We all make choices every day. I choose when to get up, what to eat for breakfast, what I am going to wear, and whether or not to go to work each day. You made numerous choices today. You decided to come to church and listen to me preach. You decided whether or not to worship God today. You decided what you were having for breakfast and lunch. Most of you men decided to wear that today... Maybe some of you should let your wife pick your clothes…just sayin.
People choose who they marry, where they work, whether to turn left or right, and whether or not to believe in God. If one chooses to quit going to work, he will likely get fired from the job. If one chooses to eat unhealthy and overindulge, he will likely become overweight. If one choses to rob a bank, he may eventually end up in jail. If one chooses to murder his neighbor, he will surely be severely punished. Any rational person will see that humans do, in fact, have free will; and, with free will come consequences.