Is suffering evidence that God does not care?

Question

Is suffering evidence that God does not care?

Answer

When people suffer they often question whether God really cares. This is a natural reaction as nobody likes to be in pain or to have discomfort. We have only to research the experiences of Job in the Bible to see this. In his difficult and heart-breaking circumstances he asked God many hard and difficult questions about why he was suffering, particularly as he honoured God in his life.

Firstly, it was never God’s intention that we should suffer. When man was placed in the Garden of Eden, we know that it was a place of tranquility and peace and that ‘everything in the garden was rosy’. Adam and Eve enjoyed the blessing of God, Gen.1. 28, and were commanded to develop a prosperous earth and to have total management of the land and livestock. Their circumstances could not have been more idyllic.

When reading through the Bible we eventually come to the last book of the New Testament (Revelation). In almost the last chapter we discover God has brought in a world where there is no sorrow, no crying, no pain, no separation and no death.The new heaven and the new earth are being described and are the places where God’s righteousness dwells and where men and women experience the bliss of existence the way God always intended it to be.

So why is it so bad just now? If God could create a new world as described in Revelation 21 and 22 why are there suffering and problems now?

For an answer we have to start at the beginning of God’s dealings with us as His creatures. There was no suffering in the world originally – why? Because there was no sin! Man had not fallen away and disobeyed God and sin had not entered the world. So, when and how did sin come into the world? We do not know when in exact chronological terms but Romans chapter 5 verse 12 reconfirms what the book of Genesis teaches about the ‘the how and when’. There we read that ‘by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin’. So, as is well known, Adam brought sin into the world.

We are told in the same verse that as a result of Adam’s act of disobedience death came into the world. Adam had been well warned! God had said, ‘You will die, the day you eat’, Gen. 2. 17. So, Adam’s act of disobedience brought sin and suffering with it into the world – physical maladies, deteriorating health, an ageing and failing planet and a lot more problems besides, Rom. 8. 22.

The problem of suffering, etc., does not lie with God; it lies with man. God did not create the problem: we did. However, the grace of God is this: God has made it possible for the problems created by sin to be rectified. Christ not only came to ‘put away sin’ as a result of His death at Calvary but He will, as a result of the same work, correct all the other problems that came along with sin as well. We are taught in Hebrews chapter 2 verse 9 that the Lord Jesus ‘tasted death for everything’ JND.

A final question! Why doesn’t the Lord Jesus sort it all out now? Can’t He remove sickness and suffering and make life a lot more pleasant for all of us? There is no one short or quick answer to this question but here are a few of the reasons why He does not.

  • His death at Calvary laid the basis for a full and final solution (our souls are saved now, 1. Pet. 1. 9.) but we will not know this salvation physically until a future day, Phil. 3. 20, 21.
  • God has not judged sin or removed it from the world yet because He is still offering salvation to people. When He withdraws the offer of salvation He will judge the world and all the other effects of sin will be dealt with at the same time, Acts 17. 31; 2 Pet. 3. 9.
  • There is another side to leaving things as they are because we often learn lessons through the hard circumstances of life and miss what God is saying to us when life is smooth and easy, see Heb. 12. 11-15.

It is not easy to cope with the problems and difficulties we face. The sad things of life are not an evidence of God’s lack of care. They can, however, be evidence of the sin of mankind and, at times they could also be an evidence of the love of God for us as He teaches us through our experiences.

May we all know the Lord’s help in suffering and His abiding presence through each day here!

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