God Is Supposed To Be A Good God...WHY AM I IN SO MUCH PAIN?

I have a close friend, who co-authors a book with me, whose Christian mother is suffering terribly from pain unlike many I have seen in the same predicament. She has lived through a torturous, loveless, marriage, botched surgery after a car accident, extreme Fibromyalgia and now basically bed-ridden by an auto-immune disorder that threatens her life daily. I know that I have prayed and others I have asked to pray. I know her family prays for her, but it seems no relief is in sight. She has been to multiple doctors and had various diagnosis but no relief in sight. Has God abandoned her? No! We don't understand THE WHY some suffer and others are healed, but GOD is in the midst of both the healed and the suffering!

This is probably the biggest question, and the biggest obstacle to trusting God, in Christianity. It's a legitimate question, and it deserves a thoughtful answer that honors the amount of pain attached to it. A powerful, believing woman wrote some of this article. Her name is Sue Bolin, of Probe Ministries. When she started writing about suffering she was in the midst of terrible suffering as well. Sue had polio and the syndrome that now affects her is, at times, worse than the original pain. She wrote a disclosure in her article The Value Of Suffering. This is it-Disclosure: I am writing this while beset by the most physical pain I've experienced since post-polio syndrome started attacking my body with the "unholy trinity" of pain, weakness and fatigue. It hurts to stand, it hurts to walk. Every single step.

Why does God allow it? And my pain is nothing compared to the horrific suffering of millions around the world. Doesn't He care? Why doesn't He stop it—surely He can. He could stop it all with a single word. So why does He let innocent people—especially children, for heaven's sake—suffer?

You see all these supposed healings by various evangelists-some are genuine,  and I personally have been healed supernaturally. There was no explanation other than God stepped in and healed me. However, I have also not been healed when I thought God would just keep on doing what He had done in the past. BUT, I HAVE ALSO SEEN GOD DO SEEMINGLY NOTHING for those I prayed for! As a young intern pastor the first person I prayed for died! Yes, she died! It shook my confidence terribly. I never really doubted that God could heal or would heal. He created a whole universe what challenge would a disease-ravaged human body be to an awesome, powerful God, however I almost refused to pray for people when they were sick after that incident. Fortunately, that was not the case for many I prayed with later in ministry, but it had nothing to do with me personally. God chooses, God decides, God has a plan for the healed and the suffering! James 5:13-16 says our responsibility is to pray the prayer of faith and leave the end result to God. There is a promise in there but remember this, God always has a plan. He sees the whole parade in our life we only see what is in front of us.

I did an internship as a chaplain in a terminal children's ward. The hardest, most heartbreaking scenario in the world is watching a beautiful child die ravaged by cancer. So many didn't make but some received an incredible miracle. Late stage cancer gone suddenly. No reason the doctors then could think of, but only a small few. What happened, was it my faith that was small when I prayed? When adults and children are not healed was it their faith that was small? Was someone harboring some unknown sin that kept them from receiving what God promised if the faithful would pray? I have seen so much suffering and so many times the suffering continued until death, WHY GOD?

Recently, I have seen on television Christians being burned at the stake and killed outright by Muslim extremest called Al QAEDA and ISIS. I saw mass graves where Christians, MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN, brutally beaten and many were buried alive! WHY GOD WHY? ARE WE SHEEP FOR THE SLAUGHTER? DO MOST OF US HAVE TO PROVE OUR LOVE FOR HIM BY SUFFERING TERRIBLY? WHY GOD? WHY? I have heard this so many times: "God is a good God, right? Why am I in so much pain?"

We need to put evil and suffering into perspective, and that means the REALLY BIG PICTURE. Starting before the beginning of time. When all there was, was God: Father, Son and Spirit, engaged in a three-Personed "holy hug" that had no beginning and has no end.(NO! NOT SAYING THERE ARE THREE GODS) A continual celebration of love, adoration, respect, and delight in each other. At some point Father God decided to create mankind and draw us into His circle of love, adopting us as sons (Eph. 1:4-5) and creating a Bride for His eternal Son (Rev. 19:7), a fit companion who would reign with the Lamb (Rev. 22:5).

But God knew that all of human history would unfold between the bookends of the creation of mankind and the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. The God of light and life, of love and truth, knew that all those things are found only in Him; He knew that to reject Him meant choosing darkness and death, isolation and deception. He knew that Adam would rebel, that His perfect creation would crash and burn in the Fall, and that everything would be infected and corrupted by sin. He knew that every human being would be born with a compulsion to reject Him, to live disconnected from Him, independent from Him—something like spiritual HIV+, insuring a death sentence. And sure enough, the mortality rate is still 100%.

God knew all this, and He created us anyway. Because He knew the end result was worth it.

Because God is love, He created people to love, and He created people to love Him back. In order for us to choose to return His love, we needed to be free to choose NOT to love Him. God made us with the very real option to say no to Him, so that our yes would mean something. The alternative would be the equivalent to making a phone say, "Good morning, I love you." The words might be there but there is no heart and no choice behind them—they are nothing more than the result of a programming code. God wanted real and actual love, and that meant that some people He made and dearly loved, could and would say no.

When people say no to God, they not only cut themselves off from relationship with Him, they open the door to all kinds of evil. Some of it comes from sinful human hearts; some of it comes from the demonic realm, angels who also said no to God and became devils. Evil was unleashed by Adam when he disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3) and it has been causing havoc, pain and suffering ever since. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that this world plagued by pain and disease, deliberate meanness and selfishness, is not God's original perfect creation. If it were, God would indeed be a horrible monster. He knew Adam would open the door to all kinds of evil and suffering, and He allowed Adam to do it anyway. Because He knew the end result was worth it.

Why does God let people suffer?

God uses suffering to cleanse us, to mature us, to burn up shallowness. He uses pain as His instrument to shape us into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:28-29). God has no magic wand that instantly transforms us from something broken and dirty (and we are far more broken and dirty than we have any idea) into something whole and beautiful. There is no divine "Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo." God would have nothing to do with slight of hand magic anyway.

Instead, the Son left heaven, wrapped Himself in human flesh, and came to earth where He lived a perfect, sinless life. Every day of His earthly life, He suffered as a human, limiting Himself to a body that would get tired, hungry, thirsty and dirty. What the first Adam messed up, Jesus the Second Adam corrected. Where Adam disobeyed the Father, Jesus learned obedience through suffering (Heb. 5:8). Jesus suffered throughout His incarnation simply because of His limitations as a human, then suffered an unimaginably horrible death through crucifixion, made even worse because He absorbed all the sin of every human being who had ever lived, was living on the earth at that time, and would ever exist in the future. He took our sin into Himself, actually becoming our sin (2 Cor. 5:21), so that when He died, our sin died with Him. But the Father raised Him from the dead, and He is alive at His Father's right hand right now in heaven.

This means that God knows what it means to suffer. There is no pain, no suffering we can endure, that God Himself did not experience even more during Jesus' time on earth. This same suffering God promised, "Behold, I am making all things new" (Rev. 21:5). The Father knew He would send the Son to suffer, and the Son knew that's what He would leave heaven for.

He did it anyway. Because He knew the end result was worth it.

God allows pain and suffering and evil because He has a plan, and He's working His plan. The end result is that behind all that we see in front of us He is working His plan for redeeming and restoring creation in spite of all the evil, pain and suffering of this sin-sick world. He will set all things right in the end. The last chapter of the Bible makes it clear that there is a happy ending to what is NOT a fairy tale. What started out as a Three-Personed holy hug of the Father, Son and Spirit loving each other while still remaining one God, will be a hugely enlarged circle of love that includes millions, possibly billions of people God made in His image, marked "Mine," and drew into the divine circle to love and be loved forever. Simply put, all of us will get a real healing on the other side! No more tears, No more pain. Revelation 21:4 promises us that God will wipe away every tear.

At that point I believe we will agree, as we look back on evil, pain and suffering on earth, that it was so, so worth it. Yes, there are miracles of healing, but there is the miracle of suffering for His Name's sake in which our reward is even greater.

Some time ago I found an article I have to appreciate by Sue Bolin of Probe Ministry call The Value Of Suffering. I will share her perspective on suffering in the next blog. Sue Bohlin looks at suffering from a Christian perspective-she knows personally what it means.  Applying a biblical worldview to this difficult subject results in a distinctly different approach to suffering than our natural inclination of blame and self pity.




See you next blog,
Ted

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