Friday, August 22, 2014

Why do we suffer?

            How can Christians worship a being, God, if you will that is so loving when according to, 10,450 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2014? Childhood cancer rates have been rising slightly for the past few decades. Surely, a loving and all powerful God can handle and stop the spread of all the diseases. Right? What are you supposed to say when the God who numbers the very hairs of your head allows every last hair to fall out during chemotherapy--and even then allows the cancer to continue its deadly work?
We wouldn’t expect things to be any different if God weren’t in charge, but he is. Believing that God is in control doesn’t take away the pain or make the questions disappear. In some ways it makes the questions even harder.

Right now there are many toddlers undergoing chemo treatments batting Leukemia. What did this precious baby do to deserve a disease? Our nature makes us question. Don’t try to deny that you have thought what I’m expressing. Where is the justice in life where a rapist, a convicted felon continues to live without ailment or strife and a baby from birth suffers with and from diseases? The answer does not come from me. I am no one to answer these thoughts. I will however incline your attention to the centerpiece of Christianity, Jesus and the Word of God.

The verses escape me at the moment, but here’s the gist. The disciples wonder why a man is crippled up, sick you know. They ask Jesus, “Who sinned? Was it he or his parents’ sin that caused him to be so sick?” Jesus replied neither. He went on to explain that the man’s state of being would ultimately be used to glorify God.

So you are thinking, “What? That’s it? There has to be another reason.”

Again, friend, let’s look at The Bible.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

People so many times get angry in times of tragedy when someone quotes scripture to them. I think they are angry at the person, their own inability to fix the situation especially if a child’s health is involved, and most definitely God. The scripture above is really one that sticks it to our sinful, me, me, me, mentality. If you are reading this and truly believe that life is just a series of random molecules and events that exist until the nothingness of death, you won’t find much comfort in the idealized concept and real, growing relationship with the Creator of the universe. If you do believe in God the Father, the cross, and Christ as Savior, you no doubt understand trust written about above.

When Jesus heard it, He said, "This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it,” (John 11:4 HCSB).   

Jesus spoke to the two sisters of his buddy Lazarus. As you may know, the friend died from sickness. Jesus came after he had died to simply show the power and to glorify God the Father. People doubted him mocking saying if he could heal the blind couldn’t he save his friend. We do this. We question and we mock God every time something befalls us whether it’s small stuff or the big stuff, terminal illnesses when we question with the word “Why?” IF OUR inquiry is not genuine-meaning, it is full of malice which is different from sincere questioning. Again, it is our fallen nature, the old man so to say that creeps back in when we take our eyes off Christ.

When someone embroiders a design into a piece of cloth, the back side of the cloth is all twisted and tangled with knots of thread, but if you look at the other side, the picture is lovely. In the same way, when we look at God’s plan from our perspective right now, it may look tangled and not very attractive, but when we see it someday from a new perspective, we’ll see how orderly and beautiful it really is. This is not saying that illnesses that strike a life down are insinuated as pretty, but rather when we experience God in the aftermath and his Glory, is the full pictured viewed.  

I once attended a funeral of a friend and became very angry at the well-meaning preacher. Refer to my earlier comment about using scripture in tragedies. He quoted the words about all of us as sinners and the wages-payment-are death. It made it sound like my friend died due to sin. True scripture, but bad timing. Nevertheless, we are sinful and corrupt before a holy, righteous, God before we call out to Christ. A lot of times we holler out, “God this to me,” or “I’m sick because Jesus..” If suffering and disease was from God, why did Jesus spend almost every day of his three year ministry on earth healing the sick?? If Jesus is who He says He is why would Jesus undo what God did?  Sin is a result of man trying to become God. But salvation is what happen when God became man.

Wait, isn’t that contradicting what you wrote earlier about the first person/example being ill? No. Many times in the Bible Jesus healed people because they were afflicted by Satan, other times, no reason for the cause is given, but the result, Glory to God always occurred and will still today if we continue to focus on Him.

No matter how much we try to know God the Father, we cannot know it all. I think by the way that is one reason so many atheists and others like them hate the concept of a high power because they must have all the answers neatly aligned. As Moses said at the very beginning in Deuteronomy 29 verse 29: ’The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law’. God has revealed certain things to us, but not everything.

            But even if we had all the explanations, it still wouldn’t help. When your heart is being wrung out like a sponge, an orderly list of "sixteen good biblical reasons as to why this is happening" can sting like salt in a wound. You don’t stop the bleeding that way. A checklist may be ok when you’re looking at suffering in a rearview mirror, but not when you’re looking at suffering in the present tense. When people are sorely suffering, people are like hurting children looking up into the faces of their parents, crying and asking, "Daddy why?" Those children don’t want explanations, answers or reasons why, they want their daddy to pick them up, pat them on the backs, and reassure them that everything is going to be okay. God, like a father, doesn’t just give advice. He gives Himself. And I did not even refer to Job. 

            Peter Mayer who is a terminally ill cancer patient used the following analogy. It’s a comparison of two chess masters locked in a bitter duel. We know that God is in control and will ultimately win the match, but the devil has tremendous latitude and abilities and will destroy many of the game pieces along the way as he struggles to win. God does not stop the carnage and suffering, but uses the devil’s moves to further His plan and win the ultimate match. As one of the pawns I can’t see the human benefit through the pain, but faith enables me to trust God. The cornerstone of this faith is that I can dimly see, and know in my heart, that God is building and strengthening my family and their salvation. The earthly dreams are wasting away and what is left is truly precious.

            At the end of everyone’s life regardless of whether they believed in one religion over another or religious figure, there will come a moment of judgment. Jesus was clear. God is a jealous God. There are not numerous paths to eternity. There’s but one name that salvation comes through (Acts) and that is Jesus. Think about where you are today, where you might be tomorrow, and where you want to be eternally.
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live” (11:25-28).

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