"Why is there so much pain and suffering in the world?"
Recently I was blessed to teach an eight-week, Biblical worldview course to 22, 7th-12th grade students. Early in the quarter, I asked each student to submit to me two anonymous questions that troubled them a bit about Christianity or their Christian journey. Interesting how our teens ponder topics that we otherwise mature Christians wrestle with as well.
Let me attempt to answer and how 'bout you chime in as well by clicking the COMMENT button below?
For starters, we live in a fallen, sinful world whether we like to admit it or not. What does this mean? It means that life ain't always rosy and squeaky clean no matter what your worldview might be. For the Christian, we realize that part of God's plan was to restore that fallen world by means of His Son Jesus Christ. In God's providential will, He allows His children to have the dignity of choice when it comes to relationships, actions, and attitudes. We can choose whether to love Christ or not. We can choose to serve Him or not. We can choose to despair or not.
Though pain and suffering are "allowed" within God's permissive will, He made a way to overcome the very pain and suffering He permits. Things may not seem "fair" during a season or during a lifetime, but ultimately God is able to restore life and wholeness to otherwise gruesome situations. God's righteousness brings about ultimate justice.
Pain and suffering serve as a sharp contrast to joy and felicity. God uses the mechanism of contrast (light/darkness, mourning/rejoicing, etc.) over and again to help us better understand who He is and what constitutes His very nature and character. Without evil, would we know and fully understand that which is good? Without wickedness would we really know what is right? Without pain and suffering, how would we truly enjoy pleasure?
The Bible teaches that when we suffer for doing good, we are blessed and that our actions are commendable (1 Peter 2:20; 3:14). Likewise, we should not be ashamed for suffering for being a Christian, but should rather praise the Lord that we bear that name" (1 Peter 4:16).
Pain has a way of gaining our attention. Do you remember that C.S. Lewis called pain God's "megaphone to rouse a deaf world"? We want deliverance from our pain, and this desire to be free from suffering may indeed cause us to seek a Deliverer. The child with a splinter in his finger, runs swiftly to his mother for relief.
If you suffer because of your own poor choices, well, learn to make better choices. If you suffer because of someone else's poor choices, well, learn to forgive and carry on. And I don't write this flippantly. Life. Is. Hard...but God never lets us off the hook to do life His way. He pulls us back, face-to-face with Him, and beckons us to trust Him, whether in the scorching furnace or in the ocean deep.
Perhaps you are not "suffering" at present. Then go help others in need. There will always be the poor among us, those who starve for Truth, and those who experience untold pain. What can we do, Christian, to demonstrate the hand and heart of Christ to even one sojourner paralyzed by pain and suffering? How might we best glorify the One who was afflicted for us, the One whose name is Faithful and True?
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
Psalm 139: 5-10
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