Death and suffering were not God’s intentions from the beginning. It is not God that causes the suffering. God created (Genesis 1:1) the heavens, the earth and everything in and on the earth – they were made perfectly by a perfect God. When He saw all that He had created, He said that it was very good (Genesis 1:31). Man had everything he needed in the Garden of Eden. There was no death or sickness. However, man wanted more and by choice, man sinned. God didn’t keep it a secret as to what would happen if Adam and Eve disobeyed – He didn’t generalize either – He was very specific. But Adam and Eve did disobey and, again, it was by choice. According to today’s text, this is where pain and suffering began and it is because of their disobedience that we experience it today. Man brought on the curse of death all by himself with no help from God. It is not God that caused man to disobey. The devil was at the root of it and man’s will fulfilled that disobedience.
Now that we know the how’s, where’s and why’s of suffering, we can deal with the question of the day. God is not responsible for the outcome of bad choices. The choices are ours to make and the outcome is a result of those choices. We have the opportunity to walk alone during suffering or we have the choice to have the Lord be a part of our lives and, therefore, reap the benefit of His peace during the suffering! Despite man’s disobedience, God’s love for us was so great that He provided man with the blessed opportunity to seek Him, find Him and believe in Him. (Romans 6:23)
God has left His light for us through the Bible so that we can find Him. The Bible has been translated in almost 2,500 different languages. Throughout its pages are God’s words leading us to Him, despite man’s rebellion and his sin choice.
~Psalm 119:105 NUN. Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
It’s our choice to sin and it’s our responsibility to seek God for forgiveness.
~Acts 17:27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
He shows the way through the Scriptures. Some will read the words of God and accept them, and some will reject His words. It’s man’s responsibility to respond to God’s word, not God’s. God does not force Himself on anyone. The seed of faith is planted and then man must make a choice (Matthew 13:18-23). Those who desire to seek after God will be shown the way. The Ethiopian eunuch desired to know what God’s word said so God sent Philip to show him (Acts 8:26-40).
You can speak to any Christian who is strong in his faith and he will tell you that without the Lord, he would be nothing. He would say that without the Lord, he would not be able to go through the trials that come his way. The trials of suffering build the Christian’s faith and that Christian rests in His care. However, the unbeliever reacts differently and blames God for those trials. We can’t speak for God – we can’t know His thoughts or His ways for they are a mystery to us. But He does choose to reveal things to us through His word.
Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
God may allow trials to strengthen our faith so that we may act according to His word. To the unsaved, trials and suffering may be allowed so that they can turn to Him and come to know Him. We can’t know all of God’s thoughts. It is not for us to know at times.
~Romans 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
I heard this story once about a man and his little boy walking in the woods side by side. The little boy slipped on wet leaves and fell down an embankment, tearing his pants and scraping his knee. The father picked him up, comforted him, wiped away his tears and cleaned his scraped knee. That father was walking right beside his son but yet the accident still happened. However, it is the outcome to which you must take notice. Had the child been walking alone, he would not have had his father to comfort him. Suffering happens in our lives, but God picks us up, comforts us, wipes away our tears and cleans us up. Walking with the Lord provides us with a constant companion – One who desires only the best for us.
Will suffering continue to happen? Absolutely! Some suffering is due to our own stubborn will (like smoking). Some suffering comes from a total accident. However, all the results of our suffering come by choice. We can choose to suffer alone without God or have Him present with us. (Psalm 23:4)