Suffering is a part of the human experience. Jesus told the apostles in John 16:33, “In this world, you’re going to have trouble. You’re going to have tribulation.” But he didn’t explain why.
In midst of his pain and anguish, Job observed, “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). But he still didn’t understand why.
Yesterday, we began answering a question from one of our readers regarding the issue of suffering in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting and as it relates to the book of the Job. If you missed yesterday’s post, read it first for context.
Too often people want to blame God or accuse Him when evil occurs. The Bible teaches that God is good. He’s the giver of good gifts. He cannot be tempted with evil. Nor does he try to entice us to commit evil acts (Jas 1:12-17).
There are basically two kinds of evil in the world:
(1) Moral evil occurs because of sin. “All have sinned” (Rom. 3;23). People with free will sometimes choose to violate the will of God. To hurt others. To commit crimes. To steal. And even to murder and maim. The Devil is called “the tempter” (Matt. 4:3). He enticed Eve to sin. And she did.
It is clear in the first two chapters of Job that God allowed the Devil to tempt Job. The evil that befell this righteous man was not his own fault. In fact, when you read the first chapter note that others raided his livestock and killed his servants.
(2) There is “natural evil” in the world. This is more difficult to understand. Events like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes inflict pain and suffering. Job also suffered loss as a result of these natural calamities. Today, we understand that these occur because of the “laws of nature.”
However, it is good to remember that even some of our problems in the natural realm are created by man. Because of sin, in the beginning, God cursed the ground and it brought forth thorns and thistles (Gen. 3:18). In Romans 8:22 Paul wrote, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
Furthermore, the wise man observed, “Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, But they have sought out many schemes” (Eccl. 7:29). Could it be that the pollution of our environment, preservatives in foods, tampering with ecological systems, and even our technological advancements have had effects that produce problems for us?
Regardless, we live in a natural world where God allows us both to reap its rewards and to suffer the negative consequences that can occur.
Job’s struggle to understand his suffering, it still our struggle today. We endure, as he did anguish of spirit, emotional despair, and mental agony. He failed to find comfort either from his wife or his three friends. You might argue that they became a pawn of Satan to “curse God and die.” Or to wallow in misery and self-pity because of a failure to be righteous.
Fortunately, Job sought a closer communion with God and ultimately came to see God’s love, concern and wisdom even through his sorrow and pain. His quest is ours today. And may we suggest the answers won’t be found in watching Fox news. Or CNN either.
God’s book offers insight into the God’s plan and purpose for humankind even as we endure sorrow and suffering. C.S. Lewis expressed it this way, “God whispers to us in our pleasure. Speaks to us in our conscience. But shouts to us in our pain. Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
While the Bible teaches that through Jesus victory over the grave, the Devil’s power is limited today, he still operates in the realm of wickedness. Peter offers this reminder and admonition. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Pet. 5:8-9).
Although God is good, evil exists. Sadly there will be more incidents like the Mandalay Massacre. While we may not understand all the reasons why, we can know God cares about our suffering. And He has prepared a better home for the faithful.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman