July 2011: Featured Post
On a monthly basis, lifeseek.org will be featuring a thought-provoking essay that is designed to stimulate healthy dialogue and a collective resolve to seek the face of God for answers of some of the most pressing issues of our age. Your participation and feedback is very important to us and we encourage you to leave your comments, facebook or tweet this post after reading.
Today, my wife showed me the video of Brianna Lopez and our hearts broke at the suffering she endured. Simultaneously, we were also angry at the fact that her uncle, father, and mother were able to do this to her. My wife then reminded me that one of the most common hindrances that people have in believing in God, is that if he is really a good God, then he should prevent suffering. This thought also brings into view the omnipotence of God.
I thought about her statement, and this roadblock of suffering that people encounter. I also thought about the Bible in it’s entirety, and took into consideration that many people who make this statement, don’t read the Bible…or if they do…they remember the parts that they agree with. God becomes an ethereal checkerboard where you can jump over things that prevent one from understanding things fully. Consequently, Biblical doctrine becomes a bag of Skittles where people get to pick and choose the flavors that satisfy their palette.
As I thought about it a little more, I didn’t come up with an exhaustive commentary or a thorough exegesis, but I did have some points I wanted to share. As I thought about this poor little girl, her family, the Bible, and all of questions that come along with similar situations, I came to a simple conclusion. This is not so much an argument, but statements based on my observations, conversations, and the suffering we witness firsthand or otherwise. As I thought about these things, I was forced to conclude that the same people who don’t understand why God would allow suffering in the world, are the same people who don’t understand why God HAD to send his Son into the world to suffer. The answer to suffering, and why Christ had to suffer is one in the same: a true understanding of SIN, precludes by necessity, that someone has to pay for transgression, and that every individual is capable of the most heinous of crimes.
In other words, people don’t deserve to suffer because most people are not criminals. In this line of thinking, that “only bad people deserve to get punished”, we can conclude that there are degrees to “good” and to “bad.” By default, many people who ask this question, have already decided that they know what is truly good, that evil is defined by our limited perspective of right and wrong, and even that our ideas of what punishment are, should be considered just via the consensus of the masses. We are so hellbent on defining our own reality, that we fail to see that what we think of as right and wrong, changes with every generation, with the reshaping of old ideas/philosophies, and with the increased acceptance of lifestyles that are centered on the pursuit of pleasure.
We fail to see that we might be better than a person on death row, but we are not better than a perfect God. He alone is the supreme judge, and he alone can execute perfect judgment. He alone allows suffering to accomplish his perfect will, and he alone gave us the most accurate description of our human condition; that sin would have such a devastating effect on the UNIVERSE, that Christ had to come to reverse our irreversible dilemma. Suffering is not only the result of sin, but until Christ returns again, it will be a reality of our shattered existence…but he is the Master Potter. There has never been anything broken that he has not, or could not fix. Whether he chooses to do it on this side of eternity or not, is his choice alone.
God never said that there would be no suffering in the world. He never said that suffering would be only for the wicked and skip over his own children. He never said that our time on Earth would be easy and that he would keep us from painful situations. He did say that he would be with us in suffering, that he would never leave us or forsake us, and that one day all things will be made new. That’s the God of the Bible, that is the God who tells us he has overcome the world, and will give us strength when MANY tribulations would test our commitment to him.
In closing, I want to say that if you don’t know Christ he is waiting for you to discover his person and his heart for you. He has already displayed ultimate love on the cross, and by dying, he pays the price for all of our wrongdoing towards God, and secures us a place in eternity with him. Furthermore, he offers his presence and help to those who have decided to call on his name and accept the gift of salvation. Without a proper understanding of who the God of the Bible really is, and what he says about suffering; God becomes a tyrant, a villain, and life’s problems are his curse on you, and not a chance for you to get to know his love while the heat is on.
And for those of you who do know Christ, be a light in this world. Remind people that Christ is close to the brokenhearted, the suffering, and the disenfranchised…he knows firsthand what it means to be forgotten, to be cast aside, and to suffer. Do not be swayed by peoples questions and arguments; people are really wanting to know one thing…does God care about me? And if he does how do I know he cares about me? The Gospel has outlasted every philosophy, cultural fad, scientific development, foolproof argument(s), and the blistering winds of contempt and time. Preach the Gospel…it is the power of God for salvation…for all who would believe. That is to the Jeffrey Dahmer’s, the garbage man, to those on death row, and to those in row #9 at the grocery store. Life’s problems affect us all, but only the Gospel will get us to God.