Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Why Suffering? PART TWO

Why Suffering?    PART ONE      PART TWO      PART THREE      PART FOUR       PART FIVE

Dear Friends,

Last week we began to explore the question that is equally perplexing to Christians and non-Christians alike. If God is so good, then why is there so much evil and suffering in the world? This week, we’ll unpack some of the ways that various individuals and religions have tried to answer this.
The first solution is to simply deny the existence of God. Personal hardships and tragic circumstances are the most common reasons for rejecting God. But skepticism is not the default condition in which we were created. We were created to fill the God-shaped void in our soul with the One who created us. No one is born a skeptic. Something happened. A family tragedy. Maybe the loss of a loved one. A child loses a cherished family pet. And now they have lost faith in the God they once believed in and prayed to. Atheists are often angry at God and whenever you hear that anger, you are hearing their hurt. Remember: it is impossible for us to be genuinely angry at someone that we don’t believe exists!! Listen to the story of an angry atheist and you'll always hear that something happened that caused them to blame God. Disbelief in God starts when He doesn't fit into our own personal definition of Him. God has failed to meet our expectations. He let us down. Through tears and anguish, our angry conclusion is that God then can not possibly exist.  

Another solution to the problem of suffering and evil is to say that God creates both good and evil. This is to deify evil and make it part of God's character. This dual nature of the “gods” is a core principle of Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and many New Age teachings. But this conclusion does not describe the God of the Bible. It paints the picture of an unstable, bipolar God and if I believed that God intentionally created cancer in a loved one, I'd be furious with God too.

In the late seventies, a book called WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE made the New York Times bestseller list. The book was written by a Jewish rabbi who had lost his fourteen year old son to a genetic disease. After wrestling with the question of how God could allow the rabbi’s son to die, this author concluded that God is doing His best to prevent suffering but He is just not powerful enough to do anything about it. The rabbi wrote, “God wants the righteous to live peaceful, happy lives but sometimes He can't bring that about. It is too difficult even for God to keep cruelty and chaos from claiming their innocent victims.” People sought out the book to find answers but found heresy. The author’s conclusions about God are not consistent with either the orthodox Jewish or orthodox Christian belief. 

Today, some of the main-line church denominations have adopted a watered-down, unbiblical version of God and would agree with the rabbi that God is not all-powerful and all-knowing. Fundamental to liberal Christianity is something called “process theology” that denies that the Bible and historic Christianity are relevant to today's culture and problems. That's because God is growing and changing and trying to figure out this whole world for Himself. Process Theology says that God is wrestling over the same thorny cultural issues and problems that we do today and He has very limited power to do anything to help the world. Because of God’s inadequacies, we need to take social action and change the world since God can't. Process theology contorts God’s Word and conforms it to our modern culture, but it is a doctrine that has no biblical support. We can’t answer the question of “why is there so much evil and suffering in the world” by explaining that God is powerless to do anything about it. The truth is that God is powerful enough to end all suffering in the world.

That’s why this question is the one that brings the most heartache for believers. We love God and can become devastated when something happens and we feel that He's let us down. We know that God exists and we know that God does not create evil. We don't deny His power and His goodness. But when we pray faithfully and go to church every Sunday, and then encounter trials, tribulations and tragedy, we’re stunned. Our faith is shaken. Don’t I deserve better treatment than this?  
To Be Continued...

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