The Bible tells us that God is all-powerful, that He is good, that our God loves us, and that our God uses ALL things for the good of His people and to His glory.

However, it is precisely these teachings in Scripture that lead many people in our culture to question God.  Many ask: “How can an all powerful, good, loving and compassionate God create a world like this?”  “How is it possible for an all-powerful good God to allow rape, murder, wars, and the like?”  For many Armenians the question is often asked: “How could God be justified in allowing our Christian ancestors to be mercilessly butchered by the Turks?”  All these questions boil down to one question: “If God is good and has absolute power to stop all evil, why doesn’t He?”

For many atheists this question causes them to conclude that God doesn’t do anything because God, “of course”, must not exist. As Christians we acknowledge the reality of evil, but we also acknowledge the reality of an all powerful, all loving God.  We believe that the existence of both God and evil are NOT incompatible.  In fact, it can justifiably be argued that to even talk about good and evil we need God.

Nevertheless, all the philosophy in the world however doesn’t make suffering easy. For those of us who are followers of Jesus, even though suffering may not cause us to conclude that God doesn’t exist, experiencing suffering can cause us to doubt God’s goodness and love towards us.  It can cause us to wonder whether God is punishing us, and it can even contribute towards a building resentment towards our loving creator.

There is no doubt that suffering tests our faith, however it need not push us to despair.  In Christ we have hope in loss. Despite the pain we experience, in Christ we always have a reason for joy.  In fact, in one of his letters to the Corinthians Paul encourages the Christians in that city with these words: For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.  The Apostle Paul is telling the Corinthians that though things may be hard now the glory that lies ahead will far outweigh any suffering experienced in this life.  Paul testifies that it was this truth along with others that sustained him throughout his long and painful ministry.

In the same way, those of us who follow Jesus need to know what the Bible teaches about pain and suffering as well as how we ought to walk through and experience it.  Without this understanding in place we will not be able to credibly and lovingly talk about God with our non-Christian friends and we will not be able to weather pain and suffering when it inevitably comes our way.

In light of the importance of this topic, up through Easter I will be preaching through a series entitled: “Suffering and the Glory of God.”  The purpose of the series will be to understand what the prophets, Christ and the Apostles teach us about suffering and evil and how these truths can empower us to live boldly and even joyfully for Christ despite the circumstances that may come your way.

 

–Pastor Shant

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