Suffering: Is it fair that a loving God allows people to suffer at all? Part 3

This concludes the postings for the question, “Is it fair that a loving God allows people to
suffer at all?” in the larger series answering the question, “How can a loving God allow suffering?” Parts one and two were posted in the previous two days.

Echoing Questions

Is it fair that a loving God would allow people to suffer at all? Couldn’t He have created a world in which there was no pain? After, He did say after the sixth day of creation, “It was very good!” (Gen. 1:31). If the creature was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26; 2:7), that is “God-like,” wouldn’t that mean there would be no suffering? And when a person trusts in Jesus Christ for salvation and he becomes a new creation, why does there have to be suffering (2 Cor. 5:17)? Since God claims to be a God of comfort, why is there so little comfort in the world (2 Cor. 1:3-4)? If God claims He is a God of comfort, then when we receive Jesus and become part of His family, can He not keep us from suffering (Eph. 3:17)?  He may have brought us into being, but we had no say in it!

Does God forget us in our agony? Are we like David who cried out to God, “I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel.” (Ps. 31:12 NKJ) How many suffering people have felt like they’ve been forgotten and worthless like this vessel?!

A Sense of Divine Understanding

After many conversations with his “friends,” Job began to question his circumstances. God then asked him, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:4 NKJ) Job, a righteous man, was never told in the book bearing his name, why he suffered. Instead, he learned to trust God! Douglas Blount summarized God’s conversation with Job,

The point of this response seems clear: one who understands neither the laying of the earth’s foundation (38:4) nor the humbling of the proud (40:11–14) cannot rightly expect to fathom God’s reasons for allowing evil; in short, one who lacks wisdom is in no position to understand why God allows the suffering we see around us. To expect God to explain Himself to us not only presumes a right – namely, the right to hold God accountable – we do not have, but it also presumes a wisdom – namely, the wisdom to understand His reasons – we do not have. Such an expectation is thus doubly foolish. Job’s reaction makes it clear that the point of God’s response is not obscure to him.6

If we do not have God’s knowledge, then is the question legitimate? From an emotional, human level, yes, but as we put our eyes on Jesus, we gain the trust-factor God desires for us. Daniel Thomson reminds us,

Biblically speaking, believers should expect hardships, sufferings, and even disability in this life (e.g., John 15:18; 16:33; Rom. 8:23, 35-39; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 2 Tim. 2:3; 3:12; 1 Pet. 1:6-7). Suffering and disability are a normality in an abnormal world, as Hubach observes, even beyond the cross of Jesus Christ.7

Discussion Questions:

1)      Have you heard the statement, “It’s not fair that I suffer so much (or they suffer so much)? Are you able to share the circumstances?

2)      When you were a child, did you ever struggle with your parents about pain or suffering they may have imposed during discipline or chastisement?

3)      How do you suppose the “health and wealth gospel” teachers deal with suffering and pain?

4)      What brought Job to his knees regarding his suffering? Was it the financial, emotional, or physical losses?

5)      How do you take the Divine understanding from your head and get your heart and emotions to both believe and live it with confidence?

6)      How would you come alongside someone who has great trouble with the question, “Is it fair that God would allow any suffering?” What would it look like? What are the baby steps that you would use to see and believe God’s love and truth?

This concludes the posting for this question.

1Thomson, Daniel, “A Biblical Disability-Ministry Perspective” in Why, O God? p. 28.

2Baldrige, Jessica, “Church-based Disability Ministries” in Why, O God? p. 40.

3Blount, Douglas, “Receiving Evil from God” in Why, O God? p. 226.

4Waters, Larry, “Elihu’s Theology And His View of Suffering” Bibliotheca Sacra 156 (April-June 1999), 148.

5Allen, Ronald, “Suffering in the Psalms and Wisdom Books,” in Why, O God? p. 131.

6Blount, Douglas, p. 223.

7Thomson, Daniel, p. 28.

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