Do you know sorrow and suffering? Pain and disappointment? If not now, just wait awhile. You will.
Something is desperately wrong in our world! Sickness, war, hate, riots, sorrow, and confusion fill our age. Man longs for a better day, but our millennium has become pandemonium.
What causes all this strife and suffering? When tragedy hits, when your life is upended, when the person dearest to you is struck by a terminal disease, you may lift a clenched fist and say, “God, you’re unfair!” Or “You aren’t a God of love!” Or “Where is God? If He cares, doesn’t He have the power to do something? Maybe He has the power but doesn’t really care. Or maybe there’s no God at all.”
This is one of life’s hardest questions. But we must face it—with three truths in mind.
When God created the world, it was absolutely perfect. Perfect God made perfect man and woman, set them into a perfect environment, then gave them perfect freedom: the ability to choose. But they chose sin, and sin entered our world. When Adam sinned he dragged all creation down into a bondage the Bible calls “the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21). The entire creation has now the curse of sin on it.
But there’s a deeper puzzle: Why did God allow it? you ask. If He is good, why did He allow even the potential, the possibility, for sin? Why doesn’t God just step in, kill the devil and destroy evil? After all, if He’s God, He could.
There is a reason why God made man perfectly free, including free to sin.
If God removed evil, He would remove our freedom. Here’s how that works: We must have the ability to choose evil. If we’re not free to choose between good and evil, then we’re not free. Our choice is no “choice” at all. He would remove our capability for the highest good—for His creatures to choose to love Him and serve Him freely.
God is a God of love. We were created to have fellowship with God and enjoy Him forever. Most of all He desires to have a love relationship with us. But love is meaningless if we are not free to choose to love and follow God! “Forced” love is not love. We are the Bride of Christ—He is our bridegroom. No bridegroom wants a “forced” relationship. God gave us freedom so we can truly love Him.
Well then, you ask, what is God going to do about all this evil and suffering?
God is not going to destroy it. God is going to defeat it. How?
There were two gardens: the Garden of Eden with its first Adam, then the Garden of Gethsemane and the Second Adam. The Lord Jesus, the very Son of God, took sin upon Himself, carried sin to a cross, and died for it. When Jesus returns, the curse will be lifted. Creation will be changed. “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12) Ultimately, God through Christ will triumph over it all. Christ has broken the curse.
Today “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain” (Romans 8:20) under the curse, and we groan as part of it. But this is not the end of the story! Paul doesn’t deny our sufferings; he faced them all and assures us: “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory, which shall be revealed in us… For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:18, 28). He concluded “in all these things we are more than conquerors.” (v. 37) The groans we endure are temporary. The glory we expect is eternal.
The problem of suffering is one of the hardest questions mankind faces. This article can by no means totally address this difficult subject. To hear Dr. Rogers’ larger treatment of this subject, request message #1980, “How to Make Sense of Suffering” and #2061, “Turning Hurts Into Hallelujahs.”