How to Make Sense Out of Suffering
taken from a message given by Adrian Rogers
Do you know sorrow and suffering … pain and disappointment? If not, just wait—you will.
Something is desperately wrong in this world! Sickness, war, hate, riots, sorrow, and confusion fill our age. Man longs for a better day, but this millennium has become pandemonium.
What causes all this strife and suffering? When tragedy hits, when your life is upended, when the person dearest to you is struck by a terminal disease, you may lift a clenched fist and say, “God, You’re unfair!” Or “You aren’t a God of love!” Or “Where is God? Does He really care? Maybe there’s no God at all.”
Many people are asking these hard questions. But we face it—with God’s Word and these three truths in mind.
When God created the world, it was absolutely perfect. Perfect God made perfect man and woman, set them into a perfect environment, then gave them perfect freedom: the ability to choose. But they chose sin. And when sin entered the world, it dragged all creation down into what the Bible calls “the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21). The entire creation now has the curse of sin on it.
But there’s a deeper puzzle: Why did God allow it? If He is good, you ask, why did He allow even the potential, the possibility, for sin? Why doesn’t God just step in, kill the devil and destroy evil? After all, if He’s God, He could.
There is a reason why God made man perfectly free, including free to sin.
God is a God of love. We were created to have fellowship with God and enjoy Him forever. Most of all He desires to have a love relationship with us. But love is meaningless if we are not free to choose to love and follow God! We are the Bride of Christ—He is our bridegroom. No bridegroom wants a “forced” relationship. God gave us freedom so we can freely love Him.
If God destroyed evil, He would destroy our freedom. For you see, we must have the ability to choose evil. If we’re not free to choose between good and evil, then we’re not free and our choice is no “choice” at all. He would have destroyed our capability for the highest good—for His creatures to choose to love Him and serve Him freely.
Well then, you ask, what is God going to do about all this evil and suffering? God is not going to destroy it. God is going to defeat it! How?
There were two gardens: the Garden of Eden with its first Adam, then the Garden of Gethsemane and the Second Adam. The Lord Jesus, the very Son of God, took sin upon Himself, carried sin to a cross, and died for it. When Jesus returns again, the curse will be lifted. Hallelujah! All of creation, waiting with outstretched arms, will be changed. “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kids; the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). Ultimately, God through Christ will triumph over it all.
Today “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain” (Romans 8:20) under the curse, and we groan as part of it. But this is not the end of the story! Paul doesn’t deny our sufferings; he faced them all and assures us: “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory, which shall be revealed in us…And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:18, 28). He concluded “in all these things we are more than conquerors.” (v. 37) The groans we endure are temporary. The glory we expect is eternal.
The problem of suffering is one of the hardest and most often asked questions mankind faces. By no means can we totally address this complex subject here. You may want to study Dr. Rogers’ added insights into this issue in message #1980, “How to Make Sense of Suffering” and #2061, “Turning Hurts Into Hallelujahs.”