THE PROBLEM OF PAIN

C. S. Lewis said in The Problem of Pain, “The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it.” Our self-will deceives us; in loss, tragedy, and suffering we may finally come to terms with our need for help.

Why do God’s children undergo pressure, suffering, and deadly peril? Paul answers clearly: “that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” God uses our weakness and inadequacy not only to build our character but also to manifest His strength and grace to us and through us.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him, we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Paul says, “Suffering exposes our theology. …Suffering will deepen your faith or it will weaken it. …Your suffering is not a failure of God’s plan. …In suffering, God reveals us and reveals Himself. … suffering is the workroom for grace.”

Death and Suffering – only credible HOPE

Twin Towers attack

The only truly satisfying answer to the existence of death and suffering is found in God’s word. Pain, suffering and death are intruders into God’s creation and He has already provided a way out with the promise of eternal life.

The BIBLE tells of the creation of a once-good world, in which death and suffering are not “natural” at all, but are intruders. They occur because of humanity’s rebellion against its maker (Genesis 3).  But if fossils formed over millions of years, which so many Christians just blithely accept as “fact”, then that wipes out The Fall as an answer to evil, especially “natural evil”. The fossils show the existence of things like death, bloodshed and suffering. So if these were there millions of years ago, they must have been there before man and hence before sin. This is the rock against which old-age compromises inevitably founder. This is also the reason why the age of things is not some obscure academic debate that Christians can put in the “too-hard-for-now” basket. Because it strikes to the heart of the hugest questions of all in relation to the nature of God, sin, evil, death; questions at the very core of Christian belief (or reasons given for no belief, for that matter).

When we try, however inadequately, to see things from God’s viewpoint rather than our own, things become quite different. There is suddenly nothing unfair about the deaths of any one of us, no matter what the circumstances.

God is the sovereign Judge who is totally holy (1 John 1:5). It is impossible to overstate His utter abhorrence of even the slightest sin. He is our Creator, He establishes the rules for our existence. Just as He destroyed almost all of mankind with Noah’s Flood which incidentally buried the myriad of dead things found in rocks all over the world (fossils); we know from His Word that He will eventually wind up the history of this fallen world and there will be a new heaven and new earth.

“and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Thank goodness God is merciful and loving (2 Peter 3:9), and long-suffering. In the most profound display of mercy and grace imaginable, He stepped into our shoes as a man, JESUS CHRIST, God the Son. He came to suffer and die so that God’s righteous anger against sin could be appeased and the penalty paid for those who place their trust in Him and receive His free gift—forgiveness of their sin and admission into God’s family—by faith.

There are daily reminders of His Curse on all creation all around us. When they are punctuated by horrifically sad concentrated bursts such as recent disasters, we are doubly reminded of the awfulness of sin. Does knowing the answers to the “big picture” make us callous to suffering? Far from it: we are moved even more by compassion, just as the Lord Jesus was when He lived among us. Because of Jesus, Christians—those who take the Bible as the Word of God, and know Jesus Christ as the Creator incarnate—are at the forefront of digging into their pockets to help alleviate suffering.

“If (since) Christ is God and died for me, then nothing I can do in obedience to Him can ever be too much”.  paraphrase C.T.Studd.

For more information check out article by Dr Jonathan Sarfati, “Why would a loving God allow death and suffering?” on http://www.creation.com.