Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Does God Know our Pain

Atheists and agnostics make much of the issue of pain and suffering in the world to 'prove' that there is no God. Their claim is that a loving and righteous God would not let 'innocent' people suffer. To them God does not exist, because if He did, He would stop all the suffering and pain of those 'innocent' people. The Word of God says that man's sin is the reason of suffering and pain. Man is not 'innocent'. Consider what James 4:1 says, "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not." With verses like this I have a problem with pain and suffering as a 'proof' that God does not exist, or that man is 'innocent', since people's actions as sinners are the cause of pain and suffering in the first place.

As a Christian, I believe the Word of God in Genesis 3 when it records that Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God's single command of not eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; that their disobedience brought the sin nature into man's experience. We became the problem as the spiritual inheritors of Adam's sin of disobedience; we are sinners after the likeness of Adam, therefore, we bring pain and suffering into the world. Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 15:22a, "For as in Adam all die". Because of Adam's disobedience all mankind will eventually be physically dead and is spiritually dead. Paul states further in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"; and Romans 5:12, "Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:". Simply stated sin is disobedience to God's commandments.

Now that we have a scriptual understanding of why there is pain and suffering in this life and in the world, let us see if God understands this condition man lives under. Does God's Word address this problem of suffering and pain that the atheists and agnostics say 'proves' that God does not exist? The answer is an unequivical, Yes!

God's answer is in the person of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament's Law of Moses and the problem of sin. God planned for this problem before the creation; it is called the plan of redemption. The Word of God is the history of that plan in action; from Genesis to The Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ that plan is detailed. The wonderful reason for this plan is that God loves us! He loves us so much and grieves over our situation as sinners that He gave the single most precious gift He could, His Son on the cross of calvary! Jesus said in Joh 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The only answer to the sin problem in man is a sacrifice of atonement for man's sin acceptable to God. Jesus is the second Adam, the perfect Son of God that brings life into man's deadness due to sin. Let us return to 1Co 15:22, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." See the comparison between Adam and Christ; in Adam man died, in Christ man can live. Paul tells us in Ro 5:19, "For as by one man's disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (Christ) shall many be made righteous." Made alive and righteous by God's grace through the obedience of His Son accepting the cross of suffering and death as the perfect sacrifice for man's sin. This is the plan of redemption for man that God planned before the foundation of the world. God felt our suffering and pain, and gave His Son to die for us. Not only that, but God overcame death and raised His Son on the third day. The Resurrection is God conquering sin and with it death on man's behalf.

Now all of this is better told in the Word of God that I have encouraged you to be reading. This is a very brief and no where near an exhaustive study on this subject. Also I want to make this plain; the pain and suffering of man is not over yet, but the sin we carry can be forgiven by faith in God. The plan of redemption is the answer of a loving God for man and his sin problem and the suffering and pain that goes with life. Sin is still raging in this world. Sin is still controlling many people because they will not accept God's Son and His gift of love to man; thus there will still be pain and suffering in the world. Until Jesus returns and removes His Bride, the church, from this world, brings an end to this world, and creates a new world; there will continue to be suffering and pain in this world.

Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? Have you let God enter your life and take control by the power of the Holy Spirit, by placing your faith in Christ's redemptive sacrifice? Do you believe in God and His love for you? If you do then you can know peace in this life and for eternity; Jesus said in Joh 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Only in Christ is this peace possible, and with this peace you can face all the pain and suffering that may come in life. Jesus Christ does not promise an easy life for the believer only a life of inner peace that will sustain the believer through all of the suffering and pain in life. (Read John chapter 17 for Christ's prayer to the Father on behalf of the believer.)

I leave you with my prayer that you will believe in Christ and God the Father that sent Him. Tell God that you know you are a sinner and that you repent of your sins. Ask Him to come into your heart and to transform you into the image of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then live for Him in that same power and in the peace of Christ that passes all understanding. I pray that this will be your choice. Lastly I leave an excerpt from a book by John Stott on "The Cross of Christ". Your friend in Christ, Truthseeker.

"We are not to envisage God on a deck chair, but on a cross. The God who allows us to suffer, once suffered Himself in Christ, and continues to suffer with us and for us today... He cries when we cry....
I myself could never believe in God were it not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as 'God on the Cross.' In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time, after a while I have had to turn away. And in my imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wretched, brow bleeding from thorn pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside His immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of His. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark - the Cross, which symbolizes divine suffering. The cross of Christ ... is God's only self-justification in such a world as ours."