Why Would an All Loving God...

“Why would an all loving and all-powerful God allow so much suffering?” asked the man as we stood on the street corner. I was there to share the Gospel with others but didn’t expect to hear such a challenging question. I would love to say I answered the question effectively, but instead I stumbled over my words and gave a convoluted answer. I’m the type of person who doesn’t think fast on his feet or rebuttal spontaneously. But give me about 30 minutes to ponder my answer and o-boy, I can really come up with some thoughtful insight. The only problem is, I’m always a half hour too late and the person I was speaking with is usually long gone by then.

If I could do it over again I would have said, “If we’re full, do we want to eat? If we’re not thirsty, do we ask for water? If we’re not sleepy, do we go to bed? If there were no suffering, would we seek God? God created this world to be perfect. His intent was that we would experience no suffering and would live forever. But then Satan came along, tempted Adam and Eve, and sin entered the world. So now that we live in a fallen world, which would we prefer, zero suffering and we all end up in hell for eternity, or a God who prompts our hearts to seek Him such that we’re able to find Him and be saved? Throughout the entire Bible, we see entire people groups who gain wealth, prosperity and comfort and almost immediately forget all about God. When we listen to the salvation testimonies of people in our church or elsewhere, we often hear a story of that includes suffering.

Not long ago I heard the testimony of a Muslim who, at the time, lived in a Muslim country. He was involved in a serious motorcycle accident that nearly killed him. His face was badly cut, and his eyes were seriously injured. In his country, any person with a disability such as blindness is treated like an outcast. He knew his life would be over. His brother visited him in the hospital and asked if he had prayed. The man said yes, but nothing happened. The brother suggested he pray to Jesus. The man was furious and told him to leave. But the brother said, “The doctors can not fix your eyes, Allah has not fixed your eyes, what will it hurt to just ask Jesus?” After brother left, the injured man lay in his hospital bed alone. He said, “Jesus if you fix my eyes I will follow you.” Six weeks later, the bandages came off and he could see clearly. Today he’s a Christ follower who declares the Gospel of Christ to Muslims in the free world.

Of course, not every story of suffering has a happy ending. Evil exists in the world and bad things can and do happen to good people. Life is more complex than can be answered with just a three-paragraph devotional. But the point is that God wants to bring us back to a place where there is no suffering and where we live forever. That was His intent from the beginning. But if God were to make the fallen world to have no suffering, none of us would seek after Him. Change only comes from a position of discomfort. God longs to have a relationship with us. To get our attention He will often allow us to experience suffering.

Read: John 16:33
(Gary Howell)
Scripture references from NIV unless otherwise noted.

Based on Finding Purpose in Our Suffering on February 10th, 2018 - Watch Sermon

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