From the moment that Jesus arrived on the scene, He had one mandate, and that was to go about His Father’s business.
For centuries, God’s character and reputation had been under fire because there was so much suffering in the earth. Jesus pointed out that He could only do what He saw and heard His Father do, yet we know that Jesus went about doing only good things.
From Genesis to Revelations, the Word of God is an example for us to live our lives by. From hygiene and dietary instruction to moral and financial guidance, we have clear instructions as how to live a significant, successful life.
However, world systems and culture have replaced biblical principles. The consequences of living by those systems and the dictates of culture are evident in every aspect of our global community. Disease is rampant in the earth, economies are failing in nations all over the world, our natural resources have been depleted and the environment is in decline. Drug abuse is at an all-time high, and the sex trade is flourishing. Premature deaths and birth defects leave us with questions that seemingly have no answers.
The anguish that accompanies the unanswered often leaves us in despair. The good news is that we may be hard-pressed on every side and we may be perplexed, but we are not to despair. God is good.
— Beverly Mattox, director of Isaiah 58, Word Alive International Outreach, Oxford
God will redeem the bad
The Bible is clear: God is all powerful and still bad things happen, hence the problem with suffering. Academia calls this the study of theodicy: the presence of evil in the world.
Questions on suffering are addressed in the ivory towers of academia, but their answers will never satisfy the broken heart of a grieving mother or the questioning of a skeptic. The usual question raised is “WHY?,” which, as a former special agent and now as a pastor, leads me to ask, what is the deeper question behind the question?
God allows free will, which we all enjoy along with the resulting consequences. Pat answers never work for every situation. God recognizes that, for a person suffering, free will is not a satisfactory answer and that we need more. He sends the Holy Spirit to walk with us and bring comfort. For the grieving heart, the promises of Jesus bring healing.
Remember how God took a horrific means of torture in the Roman cross and turned it into something that brings hope, life and love to so many?
When we allow God into our lives, He will redeem the bad and bring beauty from the ashes.
(We will be addressing this topic on Sunday.)
As Christians, we know that heartache, sickness and death DO NOT have the final word. God in the person of Jesus Christ has promised to be with us always.
— The Reverend Pete Hawker, lead pastor, Anniston First, United Methodist Church