“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:5-11)
I believe the single greatest threat to trusting in God and having faith is suffering. We can try to spin suffering as a way to “refine” our character and in some cases I do believe that’s true. But what about lifelong suffering and tragic losses that seem to have no meaning whatsoever? This is an area where atheists really gain a lot of traction and rightfully so. These cases stir up questions like “if there really is a God, why does he allow suffering and evil?” And I don’t think any believer can give you a great answer. We’re told it’s sin and that God doesn’t like it either, but that doesn’t really do much for the person starving to death or that loses their young child. I am not arguing that this is not the case, but it doesn’t really provide much hope for the human spirit.
One of the main reasons that I’m a Christian is because it is the only religion that I know of that gives hope to that difficult question. While the gods of other religions tend to be distant and not care too much about human affairs, the Christian God through Jesus Christ not only cares, but willingly suffered for us. We may not know why, but we can’t say that God doesn’t care. If Jesus was obedient to the Father in the midst of intense suffering, what right do I have to be excused from it? By God’s example, we are lifted up and find faith knowing that no matter how tragic our circumstances are, we have a God who cares and shares in our pain, regardless if we don’t understand why he allows it.
Doubt is strong and faith is hard to hold onto in today’s world. But doubt is no match for the power of the cross and the resurrection. For Jesus’ death and resurrection give us hope that there will come a day when suffering and evil are destroyed once and for all. He is on our side, and we have a High Priest who understands our pain.
Waiting For Wisdom
You have bound me in chains and cords
to your altar.
I am sacrificed every day and night
as a burnt offering to your name.
“Your servant hears”*
but your servant lies in pain.
I do not understand your trials,
nor the firmness of your grip,
squeezing the life out of me in your loving arms.
But I remain in the midst of confusion
and wait for wisdom.
My “whys” and “hows” may never be answered –
there will always remain a depth of mystery
to your being that man is never able to understand.
But in our times of suffering
we can be assured you share in our agony,
even if we don’t understand your plans.
For you willingly stretched out
your arms and legs like wooden boards
and allowed nails to be driven into your feet and hands.
*Quotation from 1 Samuel 3:10
-Poem Written by Justin Farley
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Photo Credit: Nicole Lee(: via Compfight cc
The question that non-believers ask is a valid one. It is difficult to understand why God allows bad things to happen, but the way I see it is that He gave all of us free will. Many people end up in the situations they’re in because of their own poor choices, whereas others end up there because of other peoples’ bad choices. God is not one to control our lives. He lets us live the way we choose to and meanwhile tries to pick up the pieces or make the best of things.
A very good point! We are Christ’s body, and it’s easy to pick out things like starvation, homelessness, etc. and ask why God allows it, but it’s much more difficult to look at ourselves and ask why we allow it.
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“Why we allow it” – great words!
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