This is Part 2 of 6 parts answering the question, “Will God remove the suffering He allows?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 3-6 will begin to be posted tomorrow.
God Has Allowed Suffering
As we learned in Part Three, God created a perfect world in which there was no suffering. Adam and Eve could have enjoyed the fruit of any tree and been at peace with the animals in the perfect environment of the Garden of Eden. But now, because of sin, God’s children will suffer in life. Even though every person who trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior has salvation – a relationship with the God of the universe, he will still suffer. The blessing of salvation does not remove suffering. And, even though God’s growing children can experience His presence and the fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11), they become grateful knowing that in Him all things hold together,
16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Col. 1:16-17 NKJ)
The phrase “in Him all things consist” refers to the fact that the Lord holds all things together “in the palm of His hand.” If the Lord Jesus were to “loosen His grip” for even a moment, everything would fly apart and the sufferings of this life would seem minimal in comparison.
As revealed through the wilderness wanderings of Israel, the Lord is able to prevent suffering. Moses wrote,
2 “And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. 4 “Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. (Deut. 8:2-4 NKJ)
Nehemiah mentioned this truth in a prayer, “Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness, They lacked nothing; Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.” (Neh. 9:21 NKJ)
As He did in the wilderness, God is able to prevent hardship and excessive suffering. But the tragedy of sin had entered the human race, and that penalty for Adam’s original sin (along with the sin nature) was passed down through the human father to every one except Jesus Christ, because He did not have a human father. Paul wrote, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12 NKJ)
It wasn’t until sin entered the human race that mankind began suffering with pain in childbirth, sweat in working the ground and death. God said, “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16 NKJ) And women have suffered ever since! In the same way, God said to Adam, “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” (Gen. 3:19 NKJ) Work was originally given as a blessing, not a curse. But after the Fall, it became difficult and was meant to remind man of his sinful choices.
Because Adam disobeyed, he no longer enjoyed continuous communion with the Lord and struggled with his sinful nature. Paul, who also experienced this conflict, wrote, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24 NKJ) He had to make moment by moment choices just to enjoy fellowship with the Lord, because his natural choices of independence, indifference and rebellion kept him from enjoying God’s presence. He had a broken relationship with God that could be restored only through abiding in the Lord Jesus “moment by moment” (John 15:4-5).
As man pursues that relationship with the Lord, he will see suffering in a new light. Although the trials will continue to be just as real, true humility accepts that suffering is the consequence of sin and focuses on the true source and pattern for life, “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2 NKJ) Yes, God continues to allow suffering, but those who accept that they are part of the fallen human race humbly look to Him for His present reality. They have the joy that this suffering will end and there will be the enjoyment of God’s eternal glory forever. 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) As he also wrote,
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)
This Truth may be easily acknowledged by one who is not in the midst of unbearable suffering. For those who are, turn your eyes on the Lord Jesus and hope in Him. He has a purpose behind your pain!
Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.