WHERE TO BEGIN
In my first “Why God?!” article (Why God? – The Right Place To Start!), I noted that this question typically, comes with crying out over hearing of some horrendously evil act in the world or a natural disaster or a friend’s life-threatening illness or a family member’s untimely death or some other form of suffering. I went on to offer encouragement that looking to The Creator is the right place to start in seeking answers to such questions and that He gives us the reassurance of His loving intentions.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
– Jeremiah 29:11
THE PATH TO TAKE
With the second article in this series (Why God? – The Right Way To Go), I admitted that my honest answer to “Why God?!” questions about evil and suffering in the world is, “I do not know.” However, I pointed out that all the related answers we really need can be found in God’s Word. And, I indicated that in looking for these answers it’s important to start with the understanding that “… from the beginning it was not so.”
Tragically, it was the choice man made with the ability God gave us to love and specifically, the free will He gave us to decide whether to love or not to love that led to evil and suffering coming into His creation. With that understood, I drew attention to the fact that, though it was beyond us to recover from what is commonly known as “the fall of man”, even in His condemnation of that first choice of man, He revealed that He had prepared a path to redemption. Detailing that path and where it leads is what I have in mind with this, the last in my series of “Why God?!” articles.
THE ROAD MAP
In Genesis 3:11(b), God asks Adam, “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” In Genesis 3:12(b), Adam answers by blaming Eve, when he says, “… she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” In Genesis 3:13(b), Eve also points the blame away from herself by saying, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” God responds immediately with His condemnation and He addresses it to the participants individually. He begins with the serpent and in that, before he even addresses Eve and Adam individually, He reveals that He has made a plan for their restoration.
So the Lord God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”
– Genesis 3:14-15
Of course, verse 15 points to Jesus, born of a virgin, Who, though sinless, suffered the sins of us all in order to overcome the evil of the serpent. You’ll, also, notice that it wasn’t just the three participants who were included in God’s condemnation. It was the whole of creation. That’s why, in the Book of Romans, when the Apostle Paul writes about where the path that God has prepared leads, he says,
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
– Romans 8:18-23
So, we’re all in this together when it comes to enduring the evil and the suffering brought into the world through the fall of man. Not just every person but all of creation, along with every creature in it. I’m thankful to be one who shares that “earnest expectation of the creation eagerly (awaiting) … the revealing” because I have accepted God’s gracious gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. And, I have to say that, just as my honest answer to “Why God?!” questions is “I do not know”, I cannot understand how those who haven’t accepted that gift get through from day-to-day. In his first letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul writes:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:9
When I consider that, it leaves me asking an unanswerable “Why?!” question. But it’s not “Why God?!”. It’s, “Why would anyone be unwilling to accept this, the greatest gift of all?!”
THE GLORIOUS DESTINATION
Atheist-turned-Christian author and apologist, Lee Strobel, addressed this in a speech just after the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012. The following is a distillation of this, to provide an appropriate summary and conclusion on this topic:
God promises a time when there will be no more crying, no more tears, no more pain and suffering, when we will be reunited with Him in perfect harmony, forever. He offers us the two very things we need when we’re hurting: peace to deal with our present and courage to deal with our future. He has conquered the world through His own suffering and death. He has deprived this world of its ultimate power over us. Suffering doesn’t have the last word anymore. Death doesn’t have the last word anymore. God has the last word! God’s ultimate answer to suffering wasn’t an explanation; it was the incarnation. Suffering is a personal problem; it demands a personal response. And God isn’t some distant, detached, and disinterested deity; He entered into our world and personally experienced our pain. Jesus is there in the lowest places of our lives. He was broken for us. He was despised and rejected of men. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was sold out. He loved and He was rejected. They hid their faces from Him as if He were a leper. He descended into all of our hells? So when tragedy strikes, as it will; when suffering comes, as it will; when you’re wrestling with pain, as you will – and when you make the choice to run into His arms, here’s what you’re going to discover: you’ll find peace to deal with the present, you’ll find courage to deal with your future, and you’ll find the incredible promise of eternal life in heaven.
“… In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
– John 16:33(b)