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

 

 

     

 

      1. The Nature of Humanity

      Another window onto all this is to accept the Biblical picture of the nature of humanity. We are sinners, and by nature are no more than animals. We live, breathe and exhale our last breath, returning to the dust as they do (Ecc. 3:18-20; 9:5; Ps. 146:4; Is. 38:18,19). “Dying you shall die… you shall return to the dust from which you were made” was God’s judgment upon Adam and his children. Everything within us cries out that by nature we are so much more than animals, and our human suffering and death is of a much higher order than theirs. But that is not the Biblical picture. There are many human theories and fantasies about the nature of man, not least the pagan idea that we are ‘immortal souls’. But the Bible teaches time and again that the ‘soul’ is mortal; we die, totally. The only hope of immortality is in Christ (2 Tim. 1:10), granted at the resurrection from the dead at His return (1 Cor. 15:53,54), through whom alone immortality has been revealed to those in Him, by baptism and abiding in Him. He is the only way, truth and life.


      This is all so hard for man to accept. But without this backdrop to the Gospel- then the Gospel of the Kingdom, of bodily resurrection to eternal life through Christ, is all not really such vital good news. But once we humble ourselves to accept our humanity, that we are no more and no less than human- then actually, the hope of resurrection and eternal life is exactly the good news which we need. It is a perfect fit for that hole in our hearts, that desperate need, however unspoken or vaguely articulated.


      For those who consider that man is somehow more than human and higher than the beasts who perish- the problem of human suffering becomes the more deeply painful. And more so, because there is no human way out of it. No medicine to take which makes us live for ever, no clever cures for broken legs or divorces or fires that burn houses down or the war next door. Those with no place for God in their thinking become deeply frustrated with human suffering- because there is no human way out of it. Only cosmetic amelioration of it, a touch here and a bit there, but all the same ending in death and eternal demise. Only allowing God into the hopeless equation gives a chance of solving it. And once we accept God’s existence- then all changes. We trust / believe that God is love. That He has a purpose. And we give up seeking to argue or resist His will. For we are just men, dust and ashes, water and complex chemicals. And in that humility is great peace and freedom. ‘Walk humbly before your God’ is the appeal of the book of Micah.


      We are to accept God as He reveals Himself in His word- and bow before Him: “Yahweh! Yahweh! A merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth, keeping loving kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and disobedience and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the children’s children, on the third and on the fourth generation. Moses hurried and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped” (Ex. 34:5-8). It is not for us to tell God how we think He should be, nor for us to create God after our own image and imaginations as to how He should be. It is for us to humble ourselves to accept Him as he is.


      Without God and the perspective of His Kingdom coming on earth, a hope that runs like a golden thread throughout the Bible, the equation is not solvable. And so what can we do but conclude that God has allowed the present situation on this earth in order to bring every humble person towards a faith in Him and His Kingdom. It is only those who refuse Him who will find the situation an unbearable riddle which cannot be solved. Accept Him and His plan in Christ- and whilst the suffering doesn’t disappear, nor do all the hard questions evaporate, we have at least a personal framework for understanding our place in this world. And the trust that finally, all shall make the most perfect sense, and we shall one day reflect that it could not have been any better way.


      The problem of those who have not heard remains a difficult one- but that of itself does not in the slightest take away from the existence of God. Perhaps one reason for that difficult question is that it ought to provoke each believer to do all they can to fulfil the Lord’s parting commission to us all- to take the Gospel to every person on this earth. The problem of those who have not heard may partly be explicable by accepting that the problem largely exists because the believers have not taken the message to all. All have not heard because they were not told. God always works through mechanisms, not that He needs to, but He clearly chooses to. He has delegated this work to us, the church; or ‘entrusted’ us with the Gospel, as the New Testament puts it. We have freewill. And the church has not done its job as it was intended. And so others have suffered ignorance because of our dysfunction. Just as any human failure or dysfunction results in the suffering of others. Any other way would mean that God has not given us freewill and the consequences which come along with the gift of genuine freewill.

       

     

 

 

 

© 2016 Duncan Heaster
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Contact Duncan at dh [@] heaster.org . An outreach of Carelinks Christadelphian Ministries