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Summary: Some scriptural guidelines for when our faith is barraged in the midst of suffering and evil.

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SERIES: “ANSWERS FOR SOME OF LIFE’S DIFFICULT QUESTIONS”

TEXT: VARIOUS

TITLE: “WHERE IS GOD WHEN I HURT?”

INTRODUCTION: A. We started a new series last Sunday with the introductory message “Difficult

Questions”

1. The series is called “Answers for Some of Life’s Difficult Questions”

--We’re going to tackle some of the tough questions that bother people about God

and about Christianity

2. Here are the questions we’ll be looking at:

a. How can there be a powerful and loving God if there is so much pain and so

much evil in the world?

b. I’ve never seen a miracle I can prove. And science is explaining so much we

once thought miraculous. Can we really believe the miracles of the Bible?

c. How could the God of the Bible be worthy of worship if he is responsible for

the death of innocent children?

d. Isn’t it offensive and arrogant to claim that Jesus is the only way to God?

e. How could a loving God create a place called Hell?

f. Christians have been responsible for so much violence and oppression and evil

in the name of God. Doesn’t our failure to reflect the character of God call into

question our ability to proclaim the truth of God?

g. Can I really be a Christian when I keep having so many questions and doubts?

3. Those are difficult questions.

a. They’re worth pondering.

b. I hope you’ll bring a friend

B. The question we are going to reflect on this morning: If God is so good, and God is

so powerful, and God is so loving, and God is so just - if there is really a God - why is

there so much pain and suffering and evil in this world?

1. Sometimes, this question is even more difficult for Christians

a. If God is so good and so powerful and so loving and just, why do his own

people, why do Christians suffer so much pain and evil in this world?

b. If God won’t take care of those who rebel against Him, why won’t he at least take

care of those who serve Him?

2. The fact is, there’s probably no question about God that has vexed people more than

this one.

a. Epicurus: “Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not

want to; or he cannot and does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is

impotent. If he can, and does not want to, he is wicked. But, if God both can

and wants to abolish evil, how comes evil in the world?”

b. John R. W. Stott: “The fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes 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 possible be reconciled with God’s justice and love.”

3. Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith: “Christians believe in five things…First, God

exists. Second, God is all-good. Third, God is all-powerful. Fourth, God is all-

wise. And fifth, evil exists.”

--He then asks, “Now, now can all of those statements be true at the same time?”

4. I’m not going to pretend that I know all the answers and can solve this puzzle for

you in the next few minutes

--I simply want to offer a few suggestions that might be worth considering

I. THE PROVOCATION OF SUFFERING

--What’s the cause of suffering? The Bible doesn’t give any simple answers to the question at hand but it

does identify several things that cause suffering:

A. Sometimes in the Bible God uses suffering as discipline or warning

1. Both the Old and New Testament teach about God’s use of discipline and warning

a. Prov. 3:12 – “…the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”

b. Rev. 3:19 – Jesus says, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.”

c. C.S. Lewis: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.

It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

2. Does God enjoy watching us suffer”

--Lam. 3:33 – “For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.”

B. Sometimes in the Bible suffering is caused by Satan, or one of his demons.

1. Luke 13:11 tells us that Jesus healed a woman who had been “crippled by a spirit for eighteen years”

2. Satan brought a boatload of pain to Job

3. We see demons aggravating and possessing a host of people in the Bible.

C. Sometimes in the Bible people suffered because of sin.

--Sometimes they suffered because of their own sin. And sometimes they suffered because of someone

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