Whenever something difficult happens in a person’s life, one of the first questions they ask is “why?” Why is there suffering? Why do bad things happen? Most of the time, what they are looking for is not answers, but comfort—not some high philosophical reasoning, but a shoulder to cry on. As Christians, we need to be sensitive to this, but we must also have answers. While we can’t give definitive reasons as to why specific instances of suffering occur, we can give general reason about why there is suffering at all.
Pastor Jason spoke about this topic last Wednesday night, giving a few reasons that suffering exists and how to help those who are suffering. The ultimate answer for why there is suffering is that sin entered the world when our father Adam ate of the forbidden fruit. Now, because of that sin, the entire world became corrupt and prone to separation from God.
Why, though, did God allow this sin to happen? There are plenty of reasons for this, but we’ll just give one. Augustine explained it this way, “Creation necessitates the opportunity for a turning away from ultimate good: God.” When God created something, it had the ability to turn away from Him. He gave the creation a will and a self-awareness, which gave it an opportunity to turn away from Him and choose evil. This is exactly what happened; because of this, the world is in the state it’s in.
But, what good is suffering? Why doesn’t God just take it away now? During Jesus’ time, a tower fell and killed eighteen people, and the question on everyone’s lips was, “Were these people worse sinners than everyone else?” Jesus answered this question differently than many of us would. He said, “No, but unless you repent, you will likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5).
This comes as a shock, but it goes to show us that there are deeper issues in life than that of our own comfort. Sin is worse than pain. When a person comes to Christ, they are acknowledging that the point of their life is not their own comfort, but it is to know God and his Glory. This means that God does not do all things in order to bring us ease, but to bring us everlasting joy, which can only be found in him. One of the ways that he communicates this to us is through pain.
Ravi Zacharias tells a story about a little girl who was born with a disease called CIPA, where she is unable to feel pain. Because of this problem, she cannot play sports by herself or go anywhere alone due to the risk of her cutting, burning or injuring herself severely without realizing it. A bad enough cut could result in death, and she would have no idea it was coming. Her mother was interviewed, and she told the reporter that she prays every night that God would giver her daughter the ability to feel pain.
Pain is meant to keep us from a greater problem; it is meant to keep us from feeling we are able to traverse this life alone; it is meant to drive us toward a God who can help us and be there with us. Without this pain, we would never acknowledge our need for him, which would be the ultimate tragedy because he alone is the ultimate joy. Pain shows us that this world is not our home and causes us to look forward to the day when God will make all things new and reverse the curse of suffering that was brought into the world through sin. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Listen to the audio message by clicking here.