The Problem of Suffering (2)

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The Problem of Suffering (2)

3 February 2010 Hits:2604

If God is all-powerful why doesn’t he stop evil and suffering in the world?  This question is best answered by one of Jesus’ famous stories:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'”

This story teaches that there will come a time when all evil will be uprooted from the world.  In the meantime, suffering can actually be of benefit.  For instance, suffering can wake people up to their need for God.  In his book, “The problem with pain” CS Lewis wrote: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world…”

Suffering can also bring amazing things out of our lives.  There is something I have noticed time and time again, that people who respond to great suffering with a good attitude actually develop the most amazing character and invariably do incredible things.  Think how the song Amazing Grace has touched millions of people – and still does today.  And yet that hymn was written out of great adversity.  Smith Wigglesworth once wrote, “Great faith is the product of great fights.  Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests.  Great triumphs can only come after great trials.”

At the end of time all evil – and the suffering that results – is going to be uprooted from the world.  There was no suffering in God’s original created order, and there will be no suffering when God creates a new heaven and a new earth.

Gavin Reid, the Bishop of Maidstone, tells of a boy in his congregation, who shattered his back falling down the stairs at the age of one and had consequently been in and out of the hospital.  When Gavin interviewed him in church the boy remarked, “God is fair.”  Gavin stopped him and asked, “How old are you?”  The boy replied, “Seventeen.”  “How many years have you spent in the hospital?”  The boy answered, “Thirteen years.”  He was asked, “Do you think that is fair?”  He replied, “God’s got all of eternity to make it up to me!”

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him…”

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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