This is Part 2 of 4 parts answering the question, “What is worse than the suffering that God allows?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 3-4 will be posted on succeeding days.
Suffering Should be Related to God
God promises that He will work all things together for good in order to grow us up to be conformed to the image of Jesus. Paul wrote,
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom 8:28-29 NKJ)
God is able to synergize (work together) any situation, good or bad, painful or mindless, and work them together for good, all the circumstances, to bring us into conformity to the image of Jesus. It may not be pleasant at all. It may be experientially difficult, but the result for those who desire to humble themselves before God, will be brought to maturity, established as a pillar of truth, strengthened to stand against the foe and settled in hope that God will continue in faithful support (1 Pet. 5:10).
If you relate suffering to God and how He can work it for His glory, then your focus will be on the solution. Suffering should also consider the role of sin in the world, whether personal, corporate or related to the world.
Suffering Should be Related to Sin
As previously discussed not all suffering is absolutely from sin. There is Natural Law of cause and effect, whereby suffering can occur. Yet real suffering did not begin in the human race until after the Fall of Adam. God made it clear that sin made work difficult. Sin made environment difficult. And sin made relationships difficult (Gen. 3:16-19).
There will be a tremendous amount of suffering in life, because you were born into a certain family, or born in a specific country and you suffer from corporate sin. For example, because people rejected the Lord, God allowed tyrants to take power and the people did not know how to insist on a righteous government as in the many examples given in Part One of this project. For the most part, there has been relatively little corporate suffering in the United States for the first two hundred years. Certainly in the fight for sovereign freedom, blood was shed. In the fight for manifest destiny, blood was shed to keep the union together. And certainly as sin has manifested itself, there has been suffering in the loss of a president, greed of some capitalist tyrants, and things like cleansing of racial hatred. There has been and is corporate suffering. Many innocent people suffer along with the leaders and instigators of specific causes.
Additionally, there is suffering raging from the permeation of sin in the world. We see the effects in population shifts, land mass turbulence and environmental transitions. Jesus warned,
6 “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 “All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matt. 24:6-8 NKJ)
All of this ultimately goes back to the effects of sin infused into the world. In fact, Paul highlighted, “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” (Rom. 8:22 NKJ) Even creation groans because of the effects of sin. Yet, there is suffering worse than what exists on earth.
Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.