Your Ideas

Everyone has their own experiences of suffering, and their understanding of it within the context of God. Have a read of others' views here. You can email your views to info [@] carelinks.net and we will consider adding them

 

The problem of suffering, evil, satan, the devil and demons

     

 

  1. People with our Questions

The Bible has a wonderful way of correctly anticipating our questions and doubts- and addressing them. The questions are taken right out of our minds, and placed in the mouths or on the pens of Bible characters. The prophet Habakkuk takes the thoughts, doubts and struggles out of our minds when he begins his short prophecy with a list of questions about the justice and morality of God. Reading his opening questions, we are immediately attracted to him. For the questions of this ancient Israelite man in Habakkuk chapter 1 are our questions in this age: Why do the wicked prosper? Why does God tolerate them? Why is there so much injustice? Why do the innocent suffer so terribly? He stubbornly stands upon his watchtower and awaits the answers from God (Hab. 2:1). With bated breath, we await smart, profound responses from God in chapter 2, brief, pithy answers that are going to leave us feeling with relief ‘Ah! OK, now I see… yes, I never thought of that, never saw it that way’. But there is nothing. The silence is deafening. In Habakkuk 2 we have veiled references to the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, and the final establishment of His Kingdom on earth. But no specific answers to the questions which grabbed our attention as we first began reading the book in chapter 1. Habakkuk concludes his prophecy with a Psalm of praise, eagerly awaiting the coming of God’s Kingdom on earth and the realization of the Hope of Israel. The Bible teaches the good news of the Kingdom of God as the ultimate answer to all our struggles of understanding and experience- the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth after the resurrection of the body at Christ’s return. Then, “they that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Ps. 126:5); then shall come true Mt. 5:4: “Blessed are the mourners, for they shall be comforted”.

Under the old covenant, God had promised that the flocks, fig trees and vines of His faithful people would be blessed (Lev. 26; Dt. 28). But Habakkuk concludes: “For though the fig tree doesn’t flourish, nor fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive fails, the fields yield no food; the flocks are cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in Yahweh. I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! Yahweh, the Lord, is my strength. He makes my feet like deer’s feet, and enables me to go in high places” (Hab. 3:17-19). He knows that he will be saved, finally, even though he received no answers to his questions, and despite the lack of present blessing as he thought it ought to be. That’s the point- we have our ideas and expectations of what life ought to be, of what blessing should look like in our lives. But we don’t get it. As with any dashed expectation, we tend to get angry and resentful when things don’t work out. But this is where faith and hope come in, and the perspective of God’s Kingdom. And at this point, let’s just define faith and hope. The Bible was written mostly in Hebrew and Greek. The original words translated “faith” mean effectively ‘trust’. Trust means we do not have all the answers, nor do we have a clear picture of our immediate path in this world. “Hope” doesn’t mean ‘a hope for the best’, an unfounded positive feeling that things will work out nicely. The Greek elpis refers to a solid, firm expectation. The “blessed hope” which the Bible speaks of is not something which might be, hopefully, for me, or at least for someone (Tit. 2:13). It refers to a concrete knowledge and expectation of a future event.


Job was another Bible character who had our questions about suffering, fairness, ‘where is God in all this?’ and so forth (Job 9 is full of these questions). And like Habakkuk, he received no specific answers. God simply affirmed His greatness, and Job is convinced of his sinfulness and repents. He is saved, and the curtain goes down on his life with Job a happy man with his God.

 

 

 
 

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Contact Duncan at dh [@] heaster.org . An outreach of Carelinks Christadelphian Ministries