GOD SPEAKS TO THE SUFFERING CHRISTIAN
Personal tragedy – whether your own, or that of someone close to you—has a way of making an anguished person ask this question:
“If there really is a God, WHY?”
• If God is really good,
why is there so much evil?
• If God really has all power,
why does He allow this to happen?
• If He really cares, why doesn’t
He seem to care about this?
In times of great suffering and grief, people often
answer the WHY question in the wrong way.
Answer #1 is to belittle God: “If God is good, but
evil things happen, He must not be able to stop them.” But this is what God says about Himself: “I am God
Almighty.” (Genesis 35:11) “Nothing will be impossible
with God.” (Luke 1:37)
Answer #2 is to blame God: “If God has all power, but lets evil things happen, then He’s at fault.” But this is what God says about Himself: “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5) “The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made.” (Psalm 145:9)
Is there any answer to the WHY question, then?
Yes, there is, but in order to understand it we have to spend some thoughtful time on a lonely hill, long ago, where God’s Son hung upon a cross.
During His life, Jesus showed that He had all power by the many miracles which He did. Jesus showed that He alone was truly good, by His absolutely pure life and His many acts of kindness. His ultimate act of kindness was to take all the evil and all the guilt of the whole world on Himself. The only innocent Man became the ultimate guilty Man. Our human race has only itself to blame for sin and evil in this world. Yet God punished Jesus for all the world’s wickedness, including yours and mine, as He hung there on that cross. From the deep blackness of suffering, Jesus cried out “WHY?”
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
The answer to Jesus’ question was this: God decided to do AWAY with all evil, all tears, all anguish and suffering. He would take it all away by laying it all on His innocent Son, so that we can live forever in heaven. There will be no more evil there, no tears, no grief, but only joy. The fact that Jesus died for us and rose again means that HE was willing to suffer more than anyone, in order to forgive our sins and to put an end to all our suffering.
The person who knows Jesus in this way will not have all the answers—yet. God says that there IS a reason why awful things happen, but often does not tell us what that reason is—yet. For the one who truly knows Jesus, it is enough at present to know that He cared enough to suffer everything in our place in order to give us peace of heart now, and the promise of joy forever to come.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)
Bruce Naumann is senior pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.