Suffering: What kind of suffering from God’s perspective does He allow? Part 2

This is the second part in answering the question, “What kind of suffering from God’s perspective does He allow?” in the larger project of answering the question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Part one was posted yesterday.

Natural Evil

Natural evil is that which results from the presence of sin in the world. When God created the world as we have it today (Gen. 1), He made it perfect, with harmony and balance, and God declared that it was “very good.” (Gen. 1:31)  It was the perfect environment with work that was easy and harmony with the animals. Yet, when Adam sinned, God pronounced a curse on the ground, so that Adam would have laborious work in life,

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, `You shall not eat of it: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” (Gen. 3:17-19 NKJ)

As long as the ground is cursed and while thorns and thistles still make it hard to work, all of creation groans awaiting redemption at Christ’s return,

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Rom. 8:20-22 NKJ)

This groaning creation is seen in tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, torrential rains, monsoons, droughts, blizzards, volcanic eruptions, lightning strikes, landslides and tsunamis. These disasters are a part of living in a shifting, fluctuating and changing planet. The numbers of people who have died because of these events or continue to suffer from them are staggering. Millions suffer from semi-starvation in lands of little fertility or they are made homeless from the above catastrophes.  It is often seemingly through no fault of theirs, with no indicator of Divine disfavor! From these catastrophes, people get sick and die. No one ever escapes death. They are often confined, stranded, or restricted and forced to deal with their own frailty and inadequacy apart from the Creator.1

Jesus confronted many seemingly natural diseases such as fever, leprosy, paralysis, speech and hearing impairments, uncontrolled bleeding and blindness. He performed about 35 miracles, of which only five indicated healing based on faith.

One day, when Jesus returns, the earth will be restored to peace. This will occur during His millennial reign and Isaiah prophesies the result,

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD. (Is. 65:25 NKJ)

Furthermore, plant life will abound,

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; 2 It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, Even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, The excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, The excellency of our God. (Is. 35:1-2 NKJ)

What a day of rejoicing that will be!

Part three will be posted tomorrow.

1Waters, Larry. “Suffering in the Book of Job” in Why, O God. (p. 121).

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