Summary: God doesn’t cause suffering. But in the midst of our doubt surrounding suffering, God uses those experiences to our benefit.
“Why Does a Merciful and Loving God Allow Suffering?”
The Case for Faith Series
Job 1:6-22 (quotes taken from the NKJV unless noted)
Wakelee Church ~ March 6, 2005
Theme: God doesn’t cause suffering. But in the midst of our doubt surrounding suffering, God uses those experiences to our benefit.
Introduction – Tragedy… “Who has sinned?”–John 9:1-41
Tragedy can strike so quickly and capriciously. While going about our every day lives, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, the world can be changed.
As a nation we have been living with the awful reality since 9-11. Or take the tsunami in Asia. A quarter of a million killed by a freak wave from an ocean floor earthquake. Or how about in Wichita Kansas this week a Lutheran church experienced an absolutely gut wrenching tragedy. This Middle America church learned that Dennis L. Rader, the church council chair, scout leader, and 30 year member was the BTK Killer.
But tragedy is not just far from home. In our private lives we have all experienced tragedy in some form. And if you have avoided tragedy at this point in your life thank God that you have been spared, but consider your self lucky as well. Recognize it is only a matter of time.
And when tragedy occurs, our first nature is to question. While most of us know that God does not CAUSE tragedy. The Bible states clearly that God does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men (Lamentations 3:33) .The greater problem for most believers is this: Why does God ALLOW such awful things to happen? In fact, it’s the number one question surveys tell us that people would like to ask God. It’s the number one intellectual reason for rejecting the existence of a loving God. It’s a question that deserves an answer.
Jesus’ disciples asked our Lord this thorny question 2000 years ago. They met a man one day who had been born blind. In the first century, most people believed that all suffering was the result of sin. So the disciples asked Jesus, "Who sinned in this case, this blind man or his parents?" "Tell us, Jesus," they begged, "why was this man born blind?"
Jesus did not respond with a neat, simple answer to the problem of human suffering. He never answered “why” this man was blind in the first place, but he did focus on what good could come from the experience when he said, “..the works of God should be revealed in him.” (John 9:3-5) Sometimes this is all we have to work with.
I am suspicious of anyone who talks too glibly about this age-old mystery. There’s a humbling episode from a British movie entitled, "Whistle in the Wind" where a brother and sister had experienced the death of their pet kitten.
They had prayed fervently that the cat would get well, but instead it died. They couldn’t understand. So, they went in search of the local pastor. They found him in a taking a morning break, enjoying his tea and newspaper. They asked him, "Why did God let our cat die?"
The good pastor was not delighted to be interrupted with the matter of a deceased cat. But out of duty he laid aside his paper and launched into a long, complex, theological response to this question. The children stood and listened intently. When he finished he wished them well and went back to his newspaper. The children walked away somewhat bewildered.
The little boy, holding his older sister’s hand, looked up at her and said, "He doesn’t know either, does he?"
Never in this world will we fully understand all the mystery surrounding suffering. But with God’s help we can gain some helpful insights. That is my purpose this morning.
(source: introduction adapted from Brett Blair, see below)
I – The Theological answer – God’s design, sin, and free-will – Genesis 3:1-24
The first answer we can give is the theological answer. If you have your Bibles, turn them to Genesis 3.
If we believe as the Bible states, that in the beginning God created everything to be good, then there had to be no suffering in the beginning...Amen?
But when humanity rebelled, when Adam and Eve, made the decision they made, sin entered the world and had an enormous impact.
And you and I know, that much of the suffering we experience is due to bad decisions on our own part.
Although we try to do it, it’s not fair to lay that at God’s feet. Our choices will always have consequences. We have to remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. Galatians 6:7 reminds us that we are not to be deceived, God will not be mocked, we will always reap what we sow! Galatians 6:7 (NLT)