This is Part 2 answering the question, “What are man’s ways of dealing with the suffering God allows?” in the larger question, “How can a loving God allow suffering?” Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.
Man is Rebellious and Inadequate
Man (natural man in contrast to spiritual man), apart from God, is rebellious and inadequate.1 When Adam and Eve had the best of everything in the Garden of Eden, they fell to temptation, instead of relying upon God’s provision and protection (Gen. 3:1-6). In fact, all through history man has demonstrated his rebelliousness by suppressing the truth and instead of being thankful and giving God glory, he became futile (empty) in his thinking,
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Rom. 1:18-21 NKJ, emphasis added)
Hence, God gave man over to impurity and while man professed to be wise, he became foolish (Rom. 1:22-24). In fact, the whole human race is categorized as unrighteous and does not seek after God,
For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. 10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. (Rom. 3:9-11 NKJ)
And “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23 NKJ). The reality of this difference between man’s way and God’s way is clear, as Isaiah wrote,
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Is. 55:8-9 NKJ)
And in the fallen state, of which everyone is born (Eph. 2:1-3), the natural man cannot understand spiritual things. Paul wrote, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14 NKJ) So, man’s way is like my friend who used a hammer on his Pontiac, instead of going to the manufacturer’s manual. That is what man does. He, at best, tries to fix things on his own. And even in suffering, he deals with suffering his own way! Unfortunately, He always inadequately comes up with a solution that will not resolve his questions and his struggle with suffering.
1Broger, John, Self-Confrontation: A Manual for In-Depth Discipleship, (Palm Desert: Capstone Enterprises, 1991), p. 65.