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Why Do We Suffer?

January 23, 2022 Save Article

Romans 8:18-23

Do you know suffering, pain, and disappointment? If you don’t, just wait; you will. We live with sickness, war, and hate, and mankind seems unable to do anything about it.

But the apostle Paul has been doing some figuring: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

If you don’t get this into perspective, when tragedy hits, you will get into trouble with doubt or rebellion. These three words—bondage, liberty, and hope—will help you learn that our God is a good God.

“…Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God…. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees” (Romans 8:21, 24)?

Bondage in Sin

Bondage is yesterday’s curse. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21).

How did the “bondage of corruption” come? God made a perfect world, but Adam sinned, and he dragged all of Creation down with him. Why did God allow Adam to sin? Some say, “God is the author of everything, so God is the author of suffering.” That is what the Apostle Paul is dealing with in Romans 8.

God made everything absolutely perfect. He made a man and a woman, put them in a perfect environment, and then gave them perfect freedom.

The highest good is love, and God is a God of love. So God created Adam and Eve, whom He could love and who could love Him. (See Matthew 22:36-37.) Why did God make them free? Because forced love is not love. In order to choose good, we must have the freedom to choose evil, or else the choice is not a choice at all.

Adam and Eve chose sin. When they did, all Creation fell into “the bondage of corruption.”

Why doesn’t God kill the devil and destroy evil? God could not destroy evil without destroying freedom. Instead, God is going to defeat evil. You see, there were two gardens: Eden, with the first Adam, then Gethsemane, with the second Adam—Jesus. Ultimately God, through Christ, will triumph over it all.

Yesterday’s curse is upon everything:

  • The animal kingdom is cursed. “So the LORD God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed…’” (Genesis 3:14a). Not only was the serpent cursed, but the whole animal kingdom too. What some call “survival of the fittest,” the law of tooth and claw, is just Creation groaning under the curse.
  • The mineral kingdom is cursed. “Then to Adam He said, ‘…Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life’” (Genesis 3:17, fragmented). This is why we see deserts, waste places, barren lands.
  • The vegetable kingdom is cursed. “Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field” (Genesis 3:18). This world, which was meant to be like the Garden of Eden, has become a garden of weeds. Ever noticed how much easier it is to grow weeds than vegetables?
  • The human kingdom is cursed. Man was meant to have dominion upon this Earth. (See Genesis 1:26.) But he does not. Man is morally depraved. His mind, like the Earth, has become a garden of weeds. Our bodies wear out. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Liberty in Christ

Liberty is tomorrow’s conquest. “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:22-23).

But when Jesus comes, “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9b).

  • The animal kingdom will be changed. “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).
  • The mineral kingdom will be changed. “The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1).
  • The vegetable kingdom will be changed. “Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55:13).
  • The human kingdom will be changed. Dr. Vance Havner used to say, “You won’t be towed into Heaven by a wrecking crew. You are going to have a body like His glorious body.” That is the reason the Psalmist said, “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness” (Psalm 17:15).

Hope of Glory

Hope is today’s comfort. Remember this: the groans that we endure are temporary; the glory we expect is eternal.

“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. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:28-29).

God loved His Son so much that He said, “I am going to make more like Him, a family in His image. I have predestined it—those people will be like Jesus.” What has been decreed in Heaven cannot be annulled by Hell.

Paul writes of these things in the past tense: “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:30). Yes, the glory will be revealed, but God says, “It is as good as done.”

We are predestined for glory, therefore we are preserved for glory.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?.... For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31, 35, 38-39).

Paul doesn’t deny sufferings; he faced them all. But you are predestined for glory, you are preserved for glory, and the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us.

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