Suffering and the Problem of Pain

Suffering is real. How can we make sense of it? What can we learn from
it? Can we overcome it?

People have different ideas about what is wrong with our world. Obviously
economic injustice, political factors, racism, religious hatred and greed
are factors in the existence of suffering. But they are not the only ones.
They all point to a far more insidious source – one which is in fact not
at all far from our human hearts.

Suffering and pain tell us that something is wrong. If it wan’t for
the fact that we suffer and experience pain, we might become totally detached
and say that “all is well”.  While some might try to push that philosophy
even today, reality has a way of intruding on us. We will never be able
to totally escape from pain even by means of drugs, or suicide. The reason
for this is that there is an afterlife. This world is only a test to see
who will ultimately choose to love and worship the only One worthy of our
total love and affection – God himself.

Is God really Good? – This is the big question.
At first glance it might seem impossible to answer this in the affirmative.
Many people alternate between hating God and denying his existence. Some,
seeing the evil in religion – including the Christian religion as it is
practiced – see an answer in erasing from our consciousness the belief
in God.

The real reason for suffering is that God respects us enough to let
our actions have real consequences. He gives men the possibility to actually
have a huge say in their own eternal destiny, as well as their destiny
on earth. God is looking for people to share His goodness eternally with.
He is looking for a real love relationship. That would be impossible if
we had no real choice in the matter. These real choices do have big effects.
All we do is reverberating throughout eternity and has more consequences
than we could possibly imagine. Bad choices hurt people – including yourself.
Bad choices invite the involvement of evil spirits, which keep people in
bondage to things which bring no lasting satisfaction and often outright
misery and unhappiness.

Hugh Ross’ answer to this question in
summary

Have you Been Hurt? If you are suffering,
prayer can make a big difference, if it is offered IN FAITH by someone
who is REAL with God. I’m collecting stories of God’s miracles which He
is doing in modern times. I do not have time to record all the answers
to prayer that I can find strong evidence for. According to Jesus Christ,
you have to forgive others if you want your faith to work, if you want
God to forgive you, or if you want to be free. If you’ve had a bad experience
with some religious group – join the club! – but remember, God Himself
loves you and has made Himself accessable to you, if you will only believe
and trust in Him.

Who Cares?  You may not care,
but God does, and we do, too. I didn’t care about anyone else until Jesus
changed my life – but now I’m devoting my life to serving others and co-operating
with God’s purposes. People care about a lot of irrelevant distractions
and entertainments – what will it take for us to see the real value of
knowing God the Creator?

Good News
This links to a systematic teaching I prepared which outlines the Biblical
answer to the problem of our sin. How could God forgive us if sin demands
a just punishment? What has God done for us? Please read the article to
find out.

Can We Overcome Suffering?

A lot of our suffering is due to our own unwise choices. But we are
actually guaranteed by God that we will suffer persecution if we truly
want to live for Him. Sickness and disease – both physical and emotional
– can generally be overcome in this life by faith in God, but suffering
will remain part of our lives on and off until we pass beyond this temporal
existence into what God has prepared for those who love Him.

For the Christian, suffering helps us to keep our eyes on things of
eternal value, to have compassion on others, to develop patience, to prove
our love and loyalty towards God, and to prove to men the genuineness of
our convictions and our love. It helps us to understand the heart of God
better, because God suffers constantly – because He loves so much.

Don’t just think of your own suffering, but consider the suffering of
God Himself. Jesus Christ was no stranger to suffering. As God in the flesh,
He was certainly willing to take some of his own medicine. He lived, suffered
rejection and died a horrendous death of agony – and it was for you. Couldn’t
you trust in a God like that?

I welcome responses to this message.

Michael

What do YOU think?

comments

About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

Comments

  1. Elizabeth78 says:

    Life is about living from one goodbye to the next. When we stop saying goodbye we stop living. Experiencing, changing, remembering, hurting, loving, denial, confusion… the list is infinite. From one person to another and hopefully good people. From one man’s arms to another and hopefully not to often. From one income to another and hopefully enough! We rarely say goodbye to hope but when we do life has been cruel and yes life can be very very cruel. It can be as cruel as it can be magnificent. We can’t be too angry at pain or injustice – they exist so contentment and justice can exist. We can’t be too angry at God – this energy doesn’t meddle in the lives of men. HE wasn’t there to save the people of Rwanda in 1997, nor the Jews in WWII. I can’t imagine that God invented the definition of right or wrong, good or evil – man did this. We are here alone amongst our beliefs, definitions of who or what is or is not worthy and only temporarily for a reason. If we live happily to an old age we should count our blessings. Everyday people die from disease, starvation, suicide, accidents, torture, or murder. We may glimpse this on TV or the radio – but to experience the sensation of life slipping away from your fingers, what fear. We fear so much that end that is waiting in the shadows to take us all.

    We are more at mercy of fate then we realise. In prosperous nations people believe they can influence their destiny. How many times do we hear people say that positive thinking did this or that for me. I am happy for these people but deep down I can’t help to think that it is somehow selfish and narrow minded. In extreme poverty the mind only cares about survival. A child born into an abusive family or poverty didn’t influence this chance of birth with their minds. Parents who lose their child to an illness or accident… did they not think positively enough or have enough faith?? We forget these things easily when life has been bearable for us. We forget the struggles and start to judge. The women born into Arab nations where the law permit their rape and murder in the name of religion – what can positive thinking do for them when sitting in a cell awaiting their next round of torture. Where is the United Nations, where is that Super Power, where are the humanitarian organisations. What can I do as one person??? I find it so difficult to live in this world sometimes. Other times I simply don’t focus so much on the world around me and I find it bearable. After a while in this state of mind I start to forget the struggles and think about what to buy when I go shopping, or dam I broke my nail, what a tragedy. But I still smile less than others, I still feel more distress because my quiet state is always temporary. Eventually I always find myself trying desperately to make sense of it all and I just can’t!!!!

    In particle Physics even the smallest particles have opposing pairs. In that respect nature is built in symmetry. I believe God played a part in this. Could not the same principle apply to every aspect of life? On a grander scale it is obviously much harder to recognise or measure this symmetry but that’s not to say it doesn’t exist. This simple perfection will always give me hope. In my mind, I will try to break down the barriers of right and wrong, good and evil, therefore what should or shouldn’t be. If it is here it has a part to play. Now if only I can teach myself to apply this thinking to all the madness.

    • Timothy Luke says:

      Greetings Elizabeth,

      In your letter I see much confusion of thought and even threads of other religious thought than Christianity woven into it. Fate is not a Godly concept. God has a purpose that is spelled out much more clearly than a whimsical Fate, which are goddesses in some mythologies an inescapable destiny.

      God clearly calls us to repentance that we may escape the destiny of hell. Repentance alse enables us to become free from the bondage of sin in our lives today.

      My sister, there is so much more reason to hope than you can imagine! I want you to be set free from the morose darkness that has settled over your soul! God loves you and He has good plans for you to give you a hope and a future.

      In your note I also read a sense that good and evil are co-equal forces. This is a lie the devil would have us believe because he thinks so highly of himself. God has given the devil access to this planet because Adam and Eve chose to give the devil a ‘fair hearing’ in the Garden of Eden. They chose to obey him, rather than believe God in the simplicity of faith. In doing this, the devil gained access into the world we know today. He became the god of this world and as such has worked much hatred, evil, war, death and strife. All the pain we know is because he is a cruel task master.

      Jesus came to set us free… if we go back to the simplicity of faith that our father and mother, Adam and Eve, forsook in Eden. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things (our daily needs) will be added unto you.”

      Good is so much more powerful than evil dear sister. It is no contest! The Lord has prophesied that evil will continue and will be magnified in the last days….. before our Lord comes back to earth in power and might this time, to throw the devil into the bottomless pit for a thousand years. After that he will be loosed for a season and the hearts of men will be tried briefly and then the devil once and for all will be defeated as he is thrown into the Lake of Fire for ever and ever!

      Then there will be no more pain or sorrow. Every tear shall be wiped away.

      Read these things in Revelation chapters 20-22, and be blessed!

      Tim

      “All Bad things must come to an end.”

  2. Hi Michael,

    I thank God for you and everyone out there preaching the good news. Of course by the time I was reading this I was seaching for answers and yes there is nothing new to me in above the mentioned. But hearing those words right now as I hurt, mean so much to me. Actually dramma began last sat as I was preparing for exams. I opened my email and bang the love of my life had signed out earlier! He did want to know any more. I was at a loss of words. I didnt know what had happened. We met last year in Africa and we were both doing mission work so at the end of it all, three of us got baptized by this Pastor. His divorced three times so I didnt think anything at time as there was nothing between us. His really annointed and a true servant but he has been under trial right from Jan till now.

    When he asked me out I said we should pray about it and we did pray so we were still in the middle of prayers but things were progressing well. We live in two different countries so we have been on the phone and email and chatting..

    Two weeks ago he got so depressed he wanted to end his life or quit ministry go back into practising medice, coz he thought God wasnt listening to him anymore. I encouraged him, gave him examples of Joseph, Job, Jesus, Paul and etc so he got back on his feet he preached on sunday and everyone was blessed and etc.

    Sat he sent me an email to say he was done. We had chatted on thursday night and we were happy and were planning the wedding so I was shocked and furious and confused and in disbelief. So I bombed him with email but there was no responce. I had booked a ticket to go to Denmark but then this morning he said I shouldn’t go as his considering another relationship.

    Wow it shook me again but I know we must give thanks to God in all things. I was so gratefull for it to end now as opposed to have been married to him for a few years. I am however hurting coz I was seeing a future with him and we had so much planned. Irrespective of that, my anchor holds. I am so encouraged by your article. I questioned myself today why had God allowed me to experience this pain, even though we were still praying about it and we had kept ourselves pure.

    You also pointed out that many at times we hurt coz we have made the wrong choices. Its so true.

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