This is Part 2 of 8 parts in answering the question, “What are God’s purposes in why He allows suffering?” in the larger question, “Why does God allow suffering?” Parts 3-8 will be posted on succeeding days.
God Allows Suffering to Keep the World From Becoming Too Attractive
The world is a fascinating place. There are “wonders” of the world like the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest and Victoria Falls. People love to see them in their travels. There are also beautiful landscapes and places of interest all around us. But this is not our home. God has something better for us in heaven. For example, He made our bodies fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14), and yet for the believer in Jesus Christ, these will one day be torn down and a new one from heaven will be provided. Paul wrote, “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heaven.” (2 Cor. 5:1 NKJ). And the guarantee God promised is the provision of the Holy Spirit, “Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” (2 Cor. 5:5NKJ) As our bodies age, the normal Christian will long for the resurrection body to come.
The writer to the Hebrews noted that there is no city with value in the present, but rather there is one we seek in the future, “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.” (Heb 13:14 NKJ) And Peter warned, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” (1 Pet. 2:11 NKJ) In other words, do not get caught up in the glitter and gleam or glow of the world! There is something much better to come, and suffering reminds us to look to the future. A good friend has an aunt who told him something he has never forgotten, “We’re just poor pitiable pilgrims passing through this planet.” There is nothing in the planet to hold on to!
The glory of heaven is far beyond our imagination and if this world was too nice, we wouldn’t desire our “eternal” home. Suffering helps us prepare for the glories to come. Paul wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:18 NKJ) It was sin that marred creation itself and even it groans waiting to be released from the effects of sin as Paul wrote,
19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 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. (Rom. 8:19-21 NKJ)
And because we understand that God allows creation to suffer because of Adam’s sin, we can rest in His hope for the future eternal glory,
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.(2 Cor. 4:17-18 NKJ)
God arranges the circumstances of life so that His true children long for the glory of heaven rather the gleam of this world. When I was a child, I thought and spoke as a child, thinking this world was all I wanted. But now, having lived almost “threescore” years, I long for heaven.
God not only allows suffering to keep the world from becoming too attractive, but He also uses it to show how man often has the wrong perspective and priorities about people and life.
Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.