Sermons

Summary: We need to look at suffering from the point of view of the great Christian thinkers of the centuries, and not lock ourselves into any one simple theory that ends up making God the culprit.

Someone has said that half truths are whole lies. One of the

greatest causes for conflicts and misunderstanding among Christians

through the ages has been over enthusiasm for a half truth. People will

take an idea that has a portion of the truth and wrap it up in a box and

say it is The Truth. For example, there are those who say suffering is

an illusion, and not a part of reality. This is the view of the Christian

Science people. The fact is, in many cases they are correct. It is a

proven fact that the mind can cause all kinds of suffering by worry or

fear which has no basis in reality. Some people are habitual worriers,

and if they cannot find anything in the past or present to worry about,

they can always find something in the future. The result is ulcers,

indigestion, and a number of other nervous disorders. We must admit

there is some truth in the idea, for much suffering is an illusion. But to

make this the whole truth is to make it a lie, for there is so much

suffering that is no illusion. Who would call the sufferings of Christ on

the cross, an illusion. And who would call the sufferings of war and

cancer illusions.

Another popular idea among Christians is that God's will is behind

most or all of the suffering of the world. He is the one who ordains all

accidents and deaths. When a persons time has come God causes some

accident or sickness to take them out of the world. It is a theory that

grows out of the mystery of why some die and others do not. A

woman's parachute does not open and yet she survives the fall. Others

are in terrible crashes and live, while others in minor crashes are

killed. One man goes through the battle field with bullets flying

everywhere, and yet he lives. Another does not leave the safety of the

camp, but is killed by one sniper bullet. To account for these mysteries

man has come up with a simple theory that when your number is up

you will die no matter what you are doing, and if it is not up, you will

live no matter how dangerous a situation you are in.

This theory is based on a false assumption, and a logical conclusion

that is impossible to accept. The false assumption is that death is the

servant of God performing His will. Scripture represents death as

God's enemy, and the final enemy to be destroyed, and not the servant

of God. God declares that He has no pleasure in the death of the

wicked. He is not willing that any should perish. There are judgments

where God does take the lives of men, but most death is not His

judgment.

If we think God appoints all death, then we make all the tragedies

of life the will of God. Why blame Hitler for killing millions of Jews if

God ordained they had to die then. If Hitler had not killed them in

large groups, they would have to have died in millions of separate

accidents, and so he just made the judgment of God more efficient.

This is the ghastly conclusion this theory comes to, and it is totally

unacceptable in Christian thinking, for it makes God the author of all

evil. This theory eliminates the work of Satan in the world by making

God the author of all his evil deeds.

We need to look at suffering from the point of view of the great

Christian thinkers of the centuries, and not lock ourselves into any one

simple theory that ends up making God the culprit. That God is the

cause of some suffering is true, but when we see the whole picture we

discover that to be just a small part of the issue. We want to look at

the full picture which deals with what Christians have come to see as

the seven basic causes for all human suffering. The combination of

these seven will account for most, if not all, the suffering we can

imagine. The whole picture will prevent us from putting the blame on

God, and help us see our own role in the issue of suffering. Here then

are the seven.

1. THE WILL OF GOD.

This is simple, but hardly a satisfying or biblical answer. People

who believe God is the cause of all suffering end up angry at God for

things He hates even more than they do. Jesus spent a major portion

of His ministry fighting suffering.

He had compassion on people who suffered, and He healed them,

because He saw much suffering as the work of Satan, and He came to

destroy the works of the devil. We read in Luke 13:16 where Jesus

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