Thursday, January 28, 2021

God and Suffering

 I was reading a book that attempted to explain why good people sometimes suffer.  It was a good lesson to me that if a Christian is looking to read something enlightening about God (besides the Bible), reading a book that is written by a non-Christian is not going to be helpful.

The basic premise of the book is that our God is NOT all powerful, and He struggles against evil like the rest of us.  But - we can take hope and comfort that God can sympathize with us just the same.  Hmmm.  Not sure how a god with no power can provide any sort of hope whatsoever.  Besides, I struggle with the notion of a God who can create the world and everything in it being powerless over it, among other things. 

The other striking thing about this book is that it summarized various books and passages in the Bible.  I don't claim to be a Bible scholar.  But in reading it through on my 4th time now, I have a reasonable idea of what's in it.  These summaries provided in the book took me by surprise - nowhere did I recall what these summaries claimed, so I got out my Bible and took a look again.  And, guess what?  Nowhere did I see anything even similar to what the author was asserting.  How a person could read these verses and come up with the conclusions that the author did was mind blowing.  Take home message:  Never, ever rely on someone telling you what the Bible says.  Read it yourself, and you'll know.  

There are three things to remember:

1) God IS all-powerful. 
2) God IS all-knowing.
3) God loves you dearly, so much that He came to earth to take the punishment for your sin, so you wouldn't need to.

In the Bible, God says we don't think like He does.  We'd all be God if we could.  There's much to this universe and to this existence of ours that we are not going to understand.  But we believe in the One who does understand.

There are many reasons we suffer on earth.  It shapes us - He holds us tightly through it, if we let Him. We come out of it differently than we went into it.  Sin is part of earthly life because Satan is here.  We have free will to be sinful if we wish, and unapologetic (and unforgiven) if we choose that as well.  One person's sin hurts others - that's a fact.  We don't sin in a vacuum.  Sometimes the suffering we do gets our attention, and refocuses us away from something harmful.  I don't believe that God necessarily causes our suffering (it's part of allowing us free will) but He'll help us through it, stop it when it is time, sustain us through it, and bless us despite it.  Yes, God IS omnipotent, loves us tremendously, and allows us to suffer, all at the same time.