“If There Is A God, Why Do We Suffer?”

I find this question posed on YET ANOTHER blog again today.

As usual, the answer on offer is that there is no easy answer.  This followed by exploration of a doctrine of sin and Free Will … yada, yada, yada….

In philosophy class, they call this THE PROBLEM OF EVIL.  How can a truly good God, who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present allow evil to exist?  The best selling book rack calls it: Why Do Good People Suffer?  Why Does God Let Good People Suffer?  One of my more favorite answers to that question is: Maybe God would ask you the same!

But what I never find in this nagging question that seems to never be settled (and maybe I just have not read enough blogs or deep enough into the books) is the idea of bearing God’s image.  We are created to bear the image of God in the world (See Gen. 1:26-27).  And of course we Christians believe that Jesus expresses God’s image supremely (Col. 1:15).  But he bears God’s image supremely on his cross! (Mark 15:39).

So, if we turn the question around, just a bit, we might come quickly to the conclusion that when good people – especially godly people – suffer, it is a sign that God suffers!  And when you think about it carefully, suffering is the main yardstick for measuring LOVE.

Think about it.

Now, when you drive past that beggar, bum, or prophet on the street corner or in the back alley, the stranger you could invite in, think of him as Jesus himself (Matt. 25:40).  And when he knocks at your church house door, think of him as Jesus himself (Rev. 3:20).  And if you want to do something about the suffering in the world today, celebrate the suffering God whose image you find in these lowly people.

 

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11 comments

  1. Jared · 26 Days Ago

    I love it! A great read on the problem of pain is Philip Yancey’s “Where is God When it Hurts?” – he explores the benefits of physical pain, such as telling us when to be careful, when to take it easy, when to get help, when to get away from danger, when to pay attention. In the same way, emotional pain can be that same alarm bell that warns us or focuses us. But I love also your idea that pain helps us relate to God, who suffers as he witnesses us fail to love each other!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · 26 Days Ago

      Yancey is good stuff… He takes us on some rich explorations.

      Yes, suffering helps us relate with God. In fact, as the saying goes, there are no atheists in foxholes! Even if you find an exception to that idea, it is the exception, not the rule.

      I would push the thought one step further, though. Our suffering (insofar as it bears the image) facilitates God’s relation to creation as well. And this makes it so vital that we open the door to the poor and suffering who are bearing his image. It changes the world!

      This takes nothing away from your insight about our relating with God, because that is enhanced as well. So often we settle for some “spiritual experience” with a daily devo and a cup of coffee, but when you take the stranger in, you take God in, and that takes things to a whole new level.

      Oh… and by the way, when God comes into his house, don’t be surprised if he throws tables around! Hosting God in your heart, your home, and your life… involves trashing a lot of plans and arrangements we make without him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • BrookeM · 25 Days Ago

        This is such truth, Agent X! I’m feeling some of that pain of disruption this morning, in fact. The real problem for us humans, though, is that most of us desperately want to avoid suffering, so we spend much of our lives working/planning/praying to keep it at bay–which is exactly why the majority choose the devotional and cup of coffee over the risk, inconvenience and pain of letting in other people’s problems. I’m certainly guilty of that. It’s the part of myself I most dislike.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agent X · 25 Days Ago

        Thanx BrookeM, I am always thrilled to have your input.

        God bless you and your work. I so want you to remain encouraged! I don’t know you personally, of course, but I have followed your blog for a long time now, and I take great comfort knowing God is using YOU in the way he does. Your work, your life, has that by-product effect. You help me too.

        I wrote a couple unpublished books that deal with this, in part at least, in a couple different ways. I suppose I should post the short one on my blog. However, it uses a lot of strange fonts and has one instance where it drops the F-bomb. It is a spicy book I wrote after reading Fight Club, which is an extremely vulgar exposition of how rotten our culture is. I wondered what it would look like to baptize the worldview it takes.

        I will think about that. Though as short as it is, it is still a book – a booklet. A long read for a blog. Perhaps I might break it up in chunks, but still, I doubt it would be that engaging due to length, but your response makes me want to share it.

        Will pray and consider it.

        Again, thanx for swinging by. It is important to me.

        God bless you.

        Like

    • BrookeM · 25 Days Ago

      Yancey’s book came to my mind as well. It is the best book on this subject that I have read.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Larry Who · 26 Days Ago

    “…We are created to bear the image of God in the world (See Gen. 1:26-27)…”

    I am thankful that the Kinsman Redeemer rescues us out of the kingdom of darkness and sets us in the Kingdom of Light as sons of the Father, bearing His image.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brother D · 26 Days Ago

    Satan is the ruler of this present world. We, as Christians, bring the presence of Holy God and His Eternal Kingdom into this fallen world. Jesus suffered and died on a cross for our sins. Are we to expect better treatment? Over and over we are told in Scripture that we will suffer for the Kingdom. It develops patience and character. I think people think that because there is a God in Heaven that Earth is supposed to be Heaven. They forget the basic spiritual truths of what it means to be a human. The heart of man is deceitfully wicked. That’s why we need a Savior and the Holy Spirit to give us the power to overcome the enemy and our carnal nature. The Bible clearly explains all of this. Lazy thinkers don’t want to put in the effort to discover the truth for themselves and just ask stupid questions without doing any research. Just my 2¢

    Liked by 1 person

  4. therooflesschurch · 26 Days Ago

    God might be asking us, “Why do you create and allow suffering?” Or better yet, “Why do you turn pain into suffering by ignoring its messages?” Maybe Jesus on the cross isn’t just to show us how God is, but to show us how we tend to be. We did and do to Jesus what we do to each other. Maybe he was holding a cross shaped mirror to our faces saying, “See how you treated me? This is why there’s so much pain and suffering.” If you want the pain and suffering to decrease remember what you did to the one who loves you infinitely and stop doing it. Treat each other better than you treated me and the world will get better.” But I could be way off. Maybe he died so that we could use incalculable resources on weaponry while people die in the street from starvation. Maybe he died so the least among us can lose everything because of medical expenses and inadequate healthcare. Maybe he died so poor white people and poor black people could hate each other because their mutual master told them too. Maybe he died so that we all can be millionaires if we only had enough faith. Maybe he died so that we can put all the world’s problems on him and never look at ourselves because he’s just that generous and we’re that awesome. Maybe he died for me so that I could feel justified in my rant. But it’s probably the millionaire thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ryan · 26 Days Ago

    Great post. Short and to the point. Thought provoking for sure. Time to ponder this some more. Thanks, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thunder Bay Survivors · 12 Days Ago

    Someone told me that “God never gives you more than you can handle” and after some reflection I realized in a way that is the way things work. I don’t believe there is some almighty puppet master pulling the strings and punishing people. I do think that people who suffer end up being more empathic, understanding and stronger from beating the challenges or adversity they’ve faced. People who go through life easily never get the opportunity to learn what it means to suffer. They tend to be self focused, immature and feel entitled. They may call themselves a Christian while turning away from people who are less fortunate and judging others they don’t really know while not realizing they think they are better than others which is a sin. People who have experienced or seen true suffering and consider themselves Christian don’t judge, preach or try and convert people. They focus more on the person rather than thinking about themselves, they accept others as they are and realize God judges no one on earth, it is people who judge one another here. Therefore suffering can not be caused by God nor can he honestly be used as an excuse for the suffering in the world.

    Like

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