Why did this happen to me?
There is nothing that levels the playing field like suffering. We all hurt. We all lose something or someone we love. Endings happen. Situations develop in our lives over which we have no control. Pain is an equal opportunity offender. No one gets through life without experiencing their share.
How could a good God allow so much evil, pain and suffering—or does he simply not care?
This issue is always included in the top ten list of questions. Barna Research* reveals this is the number one issue causing people to doubt or disbelieve the existence of God and it has been for millennia. How we respond is vitally important for the spiritual progress for almost everyone we encounter including our own family and friends.
Consider for a moment that it is part of the created order. Read through Genesis 1. You will find God established endings, limitations and boundaries within the created order. Days, nights, water, land, air, animals, stars, moons, planets all have lifetimes. Death is established as a partner within the created order so that when something ends something new can become fully alive. As the tree falls in the forest, it decays bringing life to creatures that play an internal part in the foundation of creation. The brilliance of a supernova is evidence of the last moments of a star’s existence. It’s evidence that creation is ‘undergoing.’ The Apostle Paul addressed the concept of ‘undergoing’ for the Christians in Rome.
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now.” Romans 8:20-22**
Suffering is not always linked to punishment. Yes, there is pain and suffering caused by sin. But, sin is not the only propagator of pain. Love. We can love so deeply we hurt. I think once we grasp how deep the Father’s love is for us and for his creation we dive into the deep pool of God’s suffering. Most people stand on the edge not bold enough, not strong enough, not courageous enough to follow Jesus into the depths of God’s love. Resisting the call of God creates tension, disequilibrium and disturbance. Our first responses are residence, anger, sadness and finally disbelief. We question God. He cannot ask me to give up what I have in order to be free and open to accept what is yet to be. Yes. Yes he can. Yes he does.
Discover what’s within the question.
Here is something interesting. We often phrase our deep needs as a question. But, we aren’t really looking for reasonable rational answers because we are hurting. We can have accurate descriptions of why things happen but those answers never satisfy the heart and soul of the issue. That’s because we are crying out for help and comfort. When we are in the midst of suffering, pain and grief, we are probably not asking for explanations as much as we are looking for empathy, concern and tangible expressions of love. As Christ followers, it is our opportunity to hear humanity's heart cry. You say you know Jesus, will you please show his kind of love and care?
How we respond makes all the difference.
Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. John 16:20-21