Many people question why God allows evil and suffering, especially considering recent world events. But if we take God out of the equation, evil and suffering still exist - all you do is remove hope. This observation was inspired by a talk by Dan Paterson that I heard recently. He pointed out that if you assume that there is no God, we are still left with the problem of evil and suffering. I believe that evil is a result of the fact that we live in a fallen, broken world. Jesus died and rose again to forgive our sins but according to the Bible, the complete annihilation of evil and suffering won't happen until he comes again. Revelation 21:4 says, He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
I don't believe that God inflicts us with suffering but he allows it for our growth and maturity. If you ask any successful person in the world if the road to success was easy, almost all of them would agree that success came after a lot of pain, difficulty and suffering. God can redeem any situation. Romans 8:28 says, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Three things to remember when you are suffering:
The Bible refers to God as the Father, Son or Holy Spirit in different passages. In Matthew 28:19 it actually refers to all three “So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptise them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” It can be a bit confusing trying to wrap your brain around the Trinity but I like to think that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all God, just like the yolk, the white and the shell are all part of the egg.
Another analogy is that a person can be a father, son and an uncle - three different roles but the same person. I hope that helps.
The Bible gets a bad rap regarding its treatment of women. We need to remember that the Bible was written thousands of years ago in a culture where women did not enjoy the same social standing as men. It wasn't just gender that defined your social standing - race, financial status and other factors played a part. In Galatians 3:29 Paul said, Now, in Christ, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or free, male or female. You are all the same in Christ Jesus. I think the important thing to take from the Bible is how Jesus treated women which was revolutionary for his era. Some of his closest friends and followers were women. As Staci Eldridge reminds us Jesus wasn't afraid to interact with women, especially women who had dodgy cultural backgrounds (like the Samaritan woman); who had dodgy careers (like the prostitute); or who were unclean (like the woman who had the bleeding condition).
There is a big "girl power' movement at the moment after centuries of repression. Neither women or men are better than each other - we are all equal in God's eyes.
Someone I know died of cancer last week. She was a beautiful person and loved God. I know she is with Him now and is pain-free - but sometimes it's hard to understand how a good God can let bad things happen. Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned and the world has been broken since. But there is hope!
In Romans 8:18, 21 Paul said, We have sufferings now. But the sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be given to us... But there was this hope that everything God made would be set free from ruin.
Revelation 21:4 says, He [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain. All the old ways are gone.
The reason we have this hope is because God sent Jesus to die in our place so that we can spend eternity with him. So, this Christmas season, remember that despite the pain, there is hope because of the gift of Jesus.
It's hard to know what to do in response to the recent mass shootings in New Zealand. Our human nature wants revenge and to hate, but love is the only antidote to hate.
If you get bitten by a poisonous snake, the only thing that will save you is the antivenom. The only antivenom for this kind of hate is the love of God. We can't begin to understand what motivates people to carry out these evil acts. All we know is John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Romans 12:21 says, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good," and 1 Peter 4:8 says, "Most important of all, you must sincerely love each other, because love wipes away many sins."
A friend of mine died of Cancer this week and it prompted me to ask the question again, "Why does God let bad stuff happen?" The short answer is that sin entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned and it has been a broken place ever since.
Let me try and explain it like this - it's a bit like cooking a cake. You mix the flour, sugar, milk, egg and butter together, put it in the oven and it's perfect. But, if you put a cup of dirt in when you add the flour and mixed it all up and put it in the oven, the whole cake is ruined. There are a lot of good things in the world (it was all good when God created it), but sin affects everything in the world. People get sick, people die, people hurt each other, people get divorced...
There is hope though. When Jesus comes again, he will restore the earth to its perfect state. 2 Peter 3:13 says, God has promised us a new heaven and a new earth, where justice will rule. We are really looking forward to that!
Project Inspired has a great article by Christi Given addressing this issue. It's a subject that's difficult to talk about, but if you have questions I would strongly encourage you to read the article - you can find it here. In a nutshell, Christi refers to 1 Peter 1:16 which says, You must be holy because I am holy. She points out that it is often the fantasies that are associated with the masturbation that are sinful. Matthew 5:28 says, But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman [or man] with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.