If we were to list all that is wrong in the world; all the hurts, injustices, unkindness, and even evils perpetrated on a daily basis, we’d never stop writing.
People suffer every day. Some on a regular basis; some mercifully only now and then. But we all suffer at one time or another. It’s inevitable.
I’ve heard arguments that propose the existence of suffering disproves the existence of God; at least, the good and merciful God of the Bible. And while I understand the seeming disconnect between one and the other; I disagree.
I think the state of the world actually attests to the truths found in God’s word. It ain’t pretty. But it sure is accurate.
And I propose that all suffering is a result of sin; of rebellion against God.
All? Yes, all.
From the defection of Lucifer and his cohorts and the initial disobedience in the garden of Eden, sin and death entered the world. And it’s been chaos ever since. I mean, we only have to go down one generation to find our first homicide case.
People, though beautiful and wonderful and worth it, are what’s rotten in the state of Denmark, because we carry the same pre-disposition to sin as our lovely predecessors: Adam and Eve.
Much suffering is a result of the greed, pride, selfishness, lust, and envy that rules in our hearts. From the seemingly small ripple effect of an affair to the catastrophic fallout of war, devastation hits us from all sides when men and women give in to their evil desires.
Children are victimized by the perversions of sick and evil adults. The elderly are left destitute by the scams of wicked swindlers. Greed deadens any trace of humanity as drug money flows in and the bodies and fragments of broken lives; broken relationships pile up. Lies, manipulation, apathy, slander: we are affected by all of it. And sometimes we’re the perpetrators.
I would say that most suffering on this earth comes directly from bad decisions, sometimes on our part; others as a result of someone else choosing to do what God calls evil. Sin.
We also deal with disease, famine, and natural disasters. Maybe some of it is judgment. Some is part and parcel of this fallen world where Satan runs free. Some may be meant to bring people to a place where they will finally cry out to God. All of it, again, exists because our relationship with our Creator has been broken.
So what’s the good news?
This isn’t permanent. And even while we still toil here on the earth, God can enter into our circumstances, if we let him, and give us streams in the desert.
You see, even while we were still sinners, God sent Jesus to die for us. This has been his plan for restoration all along. One day we will be in heaven; the ravages of sin a distant memory. And until then, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can choose to live differently, starting now. It’s amazing to see what a difference there is when we actually decide to live as God commands.
Will we still be affected by suffering? Undoubtedly. And we’ll still sin more often than we’d like. But when we are consistently trying to steer clear of ungodliness, there are good consequences: less drama; a peaceful heart; a clear conscience. Better relationships. Joy. Love. Hope. That is what Jesus meant when he spoke of being “in this world, but not of it.” The kingdom of heaven has already begun to grow and flourish in the hearts of believers. It is what sets us apart.
We still have to live here, for now, and we will face hard things. But we know what’s coming. And we get to be the ones who carry this good news, this treasure of the gospel, to those who are in the thick of things.
This sin-sick world desperately needs hope.
Let’s give it to them.
God doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves.
This brokenness won’t last forever.
And Heaven is waiting.