This is Part 3/5 answering the question, “What are man’s way of overcoming the suffering that God allows?” in the larger project and question, “How can a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 4-5 will be posted over the next two days.
Overcoming Suffering by Independence from God
In the Fall, Adam revealed that he could and would act independently of God. Instead of confronting the serpent (Satan) during the conversation with Eve, Adam stood idly by. He should have checked in with the Divine headquarters! This independence was revealed in three ways.
The first way was his self-righteousness. Adam assumed that he had enough information, enough wisdom and enough experience to make his own decisions. He thought he was righteous enough to discern what he ought to do. He did not realize that even his best thinking was no better than filthy garments (Is. 64:6) compared to the wisdom he would have gained through reliance upon the Lord. What does that look like? In times of suffering, the self-righteous person will cry out, but not in humility to God or others to help him through this suffering. He will pursue drugs or alcohol or some other form of escape, because he thinks he knows better. Even if his actions temporarily lessen the pain they will only worsen his relationship with God, who will turn him over to his own desires and consequences of independence from Him. Self-righteousness establishes expectations on God and others on how the pain and suffering should be overcome. Self-righteousness develops “the” plan of “how” and “when” the suffering should be resolved. In himself, man is not righteous and therefore he cannot overcome suffering through his own independent methods!
The second way is through his self-assurance. “I can do this!” one might say (cf. 1 Cor. 10:12). Apart from God, the independent man considers himself as the source of his blessings, ease and provisions of life. His own self-assurance strengthens his pride of dependence on following man’s ways rather than humbly crying out to God for direction and purpose (cf. Pro. 3:5-6). He might overspend his way to temporary relief from suffering, but the result will be a fall, “He who trusts in his riches will fall.” (Pro 11:28 NKJ) Or, he may resort to over-eating, binge drinking, shopping, drunkenness, or fasting done in a legalistic manner. Entertainment only masks the pain! He has delusions of self achievements and follows all sorts of psychobabble solutions of life (humanistic), rather than simply falling before God in humble dependence. God never meant for man to work through his suffering on his own.
The third way is through self-confidence. In other words, “I can face this suffering by myself.” The suffering person may avoid others, or put up walls around his life so that others do not know how much pain he is in. He may choose to forget his dire need of the Creator to sustain him through it (cf. Deut. 8:11-18). This is man’s way versus God’s way! One of the strengths that made America great was an indomitable spirit of independence, but that same quality, acted out in the wrong manner, is also killing her! How? Because living independently removes accountability to holiness, causing people to spiral into immorality and degeneracy into the digital morass available to them. Granted, these human motivations may not make much sense, but then man’s ways of dealing with life, never do!