I want to trust God, but I just don’t know what He is up to.
The problem of pain is not a unique problem for Christians only.
- Hinduism – Suffering is punishment for misdeeds in a previous life or lives. Suffering is unrelated to this life.
- Buddhism – Suffering is attached to desires. Suffering ceases when attachment to desires cease. Suffering is your fault but can be completely avoided.
- Judaism – Suffering is due to a lack of devotion to God, or its reason is unknowable. Suffering is your fault or it is not understandable.
- Atheism – Suffering is determined completely by the central nervous system of an individual. This central nervous system is the result of a long series of cosmic accidents that have brought it into existence. Thus, the stimulus that the central nervous system receives are accidental in nature and the registering of that input is also meaninglessness. Suffering has no real higher meaning beyond yourself.
- Christianity – Suffering can be understood and utilized.
The Problem of Pain – If God is great (having the power to do anything) and if God is good (always wanting what’s best for his creation), then why would suffering continue to exist?
The Free Will Defense – If the highest value is love, and love requires free choice, then this also means the real potential for evil. But it is only God that has brought us a rescue from this evil.
“An atheistic worldview has no logical place for moral obligation. The strong eating the week is completely natural, and you have no foundation for saying it’s wrong or evil. Therefore if you think there really is such a thing as good and evil is not simply an illusion, then you have a very powerful reason to believe in God.” – Alvin Plantiga Philosophers Who Believe
How can I trust God with my personal pain?
- The Bible is full of faith-filled people and people who faced real suffering.
- Jesus has sympathy for our present pain and has grace for our past mistakes. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
TALK IT OUT
- One of the most difficult faith-related questions people struggle with is, “How could a good, all-powerful God allow suffering?” Have you ever struggled with that question? How has it impacted your relationship with God?
- Read Genesis 1:31-2:2. According to these verses, what condition was the world in when God finished creating it? Now read Genesis 2:15-17, 3:6, 3:23 and Romans 5:12. What happened after the Creation that changed everything? What impact do you think this has had on our human existence?
- Read 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, Romans 5:15-19 and John 1:9-12, 3:16-17. According to these passages, what solution did God provide to fix our broken world?
- Read John 1:14, Luke 2:51-52 and Hebrews 4:14-16. Does it matter to you that Jesus came and lived among us as a human being? Why or why not?
- Read Romans 8:22-25; Hebrews 11:8-10,13-16; Hebrews 12:2-3; 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1-5. These passages remind us that our life on this earth is not all there is. In what ways do these verses better equip you to deal with our present circumstances?
LIVE IT OUT
- What type(s) of suffering are you currently experiencing? Do you feel like you are trusting God to help you through it? If not, take a few moments right now to ask Him to help you do that. If so, take a few moments right now to thank Him for walking this out with you.
- Think of someone you know who is currently suffering in some way. Set aside some time this week to encourage them (examples: make a phone call, send a text or email, mail them a card or note, leave a special gift outside their door, etc.).