WHY DOESN'T GOD KEEP US FROM SUFFERING?
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WHY DOESN'T GOD KEEP US FROM SUFFERING?
Comments by: Roger Kimble - 16 Nov 2003
I read your sermon, and although I would never think anything but the best of both of you, I am sorry to say that it just doesn't answer the question of why there is so much human suffering. This is a huge subject in and of itself, so the fault may not lie in what you said, but in trying to answer the question in so limited amount of space.
I have read Philip Yancey's two books on the subject of human pain and suffering, and have found that while they are probably the best I have seen, they too cannot answer the question completely.
I understand the physical laws set in motion in this universe, and to break those laws results in calamity for the breaker. You step off a tall building, gravity will take over. This same thing goes for the small warning signs we sometimes feel in our bodies when it is being mistreated, but sometimes these warning signs come when the body is being cared for perfectly, and are not the results of sin or abuse. What then? We all must eventually die, for we are mortal. That is not the question.
The question is, (as an example) why a 20 year old is afflicted with a life-long disease of pain and suffering? Is that God's will? Is God punishing that person? Is God trying to get that person's attention away from the world and on to spiritual matters? I don't think so. I think God has nothing to do with it. You see, to say He does have something to do with it puts God in the dock, to use one of C.S. Lewis's titles. Of course, it is the height of human arrogance to think that God can be in that position.
When a whole nation is living in sin, and I sometimes think we here in the U.S are fast approaching this, I understand that the results of this living in sin can affect the whole nation, and every individual in it. But here we may not be talking of individual pain and suffering, rather a general malaise and sundry misfortunes befalling the nation, sometimes to the point of being overrun by an enemy nation.
You gave the example of David, as the leader of a nation. What he did, or did not do, was viewed by his people. I understand that he was the figurehead and his people could see the results of his sin, and also of his Godly living. But what of the poor shepherd, whom no one saw? He may have been worse off than David in his afflictions, and possibly was free of sin. I am reminded of Job, whom his friends accused of having a hidden sin, and that if he would but confess this sin, he would be spared all of the travails he was undergoing. Job had not sinned, but yet he was in terrible travail. To what can this be ascribed?
It is the Baptists who most strongly argue that pain and suffering is used to bring one back to God, by getting the afflicted one's mind off worldly pursuits. I find this to be fudging the question. What if the one afflicted is not pursuing the ways of the world? To put it another way, it seems to me that both the righteous and the sinner are equally afflicted. It goes well beyond my understanding, and please don't take this to mean that I am putting God in the dock, as I mentioned earlier. To date, no one has been able to answer the question of human, individual suffering.
I know of a couple whose only son died from leukemia at the age of 29. This, in turn, drove them from the church, for the son had been raised in the church. They had great difficulty with this, and frankly, this event kind of took away the logic of the Baptist's assertion mentioned earlier. This was about seven or eight years ago. They have not returned to the church.
I read about one of the battles in WWII that took place in the carnage that was the Pacific campaign. The individual speaking of one such battle said that a soldier would stick his head out of the foxhole and look around, and would be okay. The next guy might do the same, and would be shot. There was no rhyme or reason, one was not more righteous than the other.
We see death occurring to the young, the middle aged, and to the elderly. Are the young who are dying all sinners? No. Death comes to us all, and at what time we do not know. It cannot be ascribed to our state of being saved or not. Yes, I know that unrighteous living can hasten the approach of death, certainly, but what of the righteous that die early? We have not the answers.
I hope that you read this in the sense it was written. I mean no criticizing of what you have said, for I have nothing but the highest regard for you. It just seems that there are no answers sometimes.
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