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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. Answers we don't want to hear

  1. Answers We Don’t Want to Hear

All this isn’t what we really would like to hear. We want to have the answers. We don’t want our questions about suffering ignored and left without specific answers. Rom. 9:18-20 raise the issues of God’s fairness, with the inspired author correctly second guessing our questions. And the answer again is not quite what we want to hear: “So then He has mercy on whom He wishes to, and hardens whom He wishes. Then you will say to me: Why does He still find fault? For who withstands His will? No, O man; who are you to answer back to God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it: Why did you make me thus?”. The answer is that it is not for us to so reason with God, but to accept His work; for we are the clay and He is the potter. Job learned the same, finally. He had a mass of questions for God, and God replied by asking him questions. And Job feels his case against God has totally collapsed, and begs for forgiveness. But my point is, that no answers are given by God to Job’s mass of questions about suffering, Divine justice, fairness etc.: “Then Job answered Yahweh, I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be restrained. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I didn’t know. You said, ‘Listen, now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you will answer Me’. I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:1-6).


The American constitution guarantees all citizens the right to the “pursuit of happiness”; and this reflects the presumption of every man in whatever time and culture. But the Bible speaks of only one right- and that is to death. Any experience of blessings and salvation from death is not by right, but will be experienced by grace alone- for those who can humble themselves to believe in that grace. Nor should we think that by good works we can expect a life of blessing and absence from suffering. “How could that happen to such a good person?” is a question we frequently hear and ourselves ask. But the Bible again gives us an answer that makes us wince, and shuffle our feet uncomfortably: “There is none that does good, not one” (Rom. 3:23). “No-one is good except God alone” (Lk. 18:29). All are serious sinners. And the more so because the sinful world for which we alone are responsible means that little children also must die at times, in this order of things. Others suffer the consequences of our sins or those which we would have committed had we had the chance and place in time or space; and that includes Adam’s sin.


Again and again- we don’t like these responses. ‘It’s not for you to ask these questions about justice and suffering… you can’t understand… you are a sinner and need salvation yourself, focus on that… suffering is ultimately for the spiritual maturing and perfection of those who trust in Him’. But these are in fact God’s answers to the questions about suffering. But because we don’t like the answers, we think God is totally silent about it. Job fell into this trap- he had stacks of questions for God about suffering and Divine justice. But Elihu, speaking on God’s behalf, wisely comments: “Why do you accuse God of never answering our complaints? Although God speaks again and again, no one pays attention to what he says” (Job 33:13,14 GNB). The fact that the answer isn’t what we want to hear doesn’t mean that He has made no answer. Elihu also perceptively notes that Job’s anger with God over the questions of suffering arises from a false sense that he is totally innocent: “Job claims that he is innocent, that God refuses to give him justice” (Job 34:5 GNB). Job kept on about his own innocence. And the answer was that he was not innocent; and eventually he realized this and broke down in confession of sin. So one important perspective on these questions is that we are sinners, and the wages of sin is death.


The Lord Jesus brought this out so clearly when commenting on the fall of the Siloam tower which had killed a number of people beneath it. We can imagine the questions: ‘Why those people? Where was God in that! Innocent people died!’. And we so often hear this complaint- that innocent people suffer. The Lord’s comment was: “Those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them. Do you think that they were offenders above all the men that dwell in Jerusalem? I tell you no, but unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:4,5). Those 18 were not innocent; and neither are any of us. So the question of ‘Why them?’ was declared inappropriate. Suffering, the suffering of death, is coming to our door- right up to each and every one of us. The form of death, whether in a building collapse or from simple old age, is in that sense not relevant. The tragedy of the human position elicits the question: ‘What can I do to get out of it? Or to help others avoid it?’. And the answer is clearly given: Repent, so that you do not perish. This was the thrust of Peter’s appeal in Acts chapter 2; and thousands of people saw the point, and were baptized immediately.

 

 

 
 

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