Why Does God Allow Good People to Suffer? Part 2




Last week I started the blog, 

Why Does God Allow Good People to Suffer? Part 1 

If you missed it, you can read it here.


In the first blog post, I had intended to get much further than I did. First, I had to spend time on the character of God. We HAVE to start with definitions rather than emotions. In our emotion-driven society, it is crucial.

I had to ask the questions:

Who is God?

Can He even stop suffering or is it just a result of a fallen world?

***************

Those two questions took up the entire blog post.

Today, I am going to attempt to finish answering the question.


I chose to title these blogs the way I did intentionally. It is a common argument.
But, I must go back to definitions.

What is a good person?

If you ask most people today, they will tell you that they are a good person. After all, when they compare themselves with others, they stack up pretty well (in their book). Compared to Hitler and Stalin, they're practically saints.

But how does Scripture define us?

Psalm 143:2- Enter not into judgement with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before You. (emphasis mine)

Romans 3:23- For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Isaiah 53:6- All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned everyone- to his own way; and the 
Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.


"Well, yes," you say. "I didn't say I was perfect, I'm just basically good."

Romans 3:9-12 shows us that isn't true.


Romans 3:9-12- What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written,
"None is righteous, no not one; no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have been worthless;
no one does good,
not even one."

Left to ourselves, we will never seek God and we are not good.
Not you.
Definitely not me.

"Well you don't know my heart!" is the familiar cry of our generation.

You're right.
I don't.

But God does. And this is what He has to say about our hearts:

Mark 7:21-23- From within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and they defile a person.

Jeremiah 17:9- The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

So please, no matter how many times you hear it on a movie...



don't follow your heart. It will not lead you to hope and life. More on that in a minute.

*****


The fact is, that only ONE good person has ever suffered.

That is Jesus Christ.





In Christianity, we have worked to "pretty up" the cross. You like that word?
I made it up. We have worked to make the cross beautiful. And in a sense it is.

But in another,
it is the most gruesome thing you have ever seen.

When I went to pick out a picture of a cross, I found a lot of "glowing crosses."
These were beautiful crosses up on a hill. There was a gorgeous sunset behind. I believe it was meant to make us feel uplifted.

But that's not what the cross was.

Back in Deuteronomy 21:22-23 we are told:

And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God...

The Roman cross was torture, innumerable suffering, and death.
You were hung naked or barely clothed.
Your pride didn't matter.
You were hung bare.

And God chose that death for himself.

Galatians 3:13- Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us- for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree."

Knowing that Christ suffered so, why should I think that I would not?

Galatians 2:20- I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

So, when I am a follower of Jesus Christ, my life is nailed to that cross just as my Master's was. It is surrendered. It is not my own.

So how can this give me hope?


It gives me hope because it is part of His work in my life.

Philippians 1:6- And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

So Christ not only does the work to save me, He not only does the work to draw me...

He does the work to make me more like Him.

1 Peter 1:6-7- In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 

Romans 5:3-5 
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Philippians 3:8-11
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness of God that depends on faith- that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.


Charles Spurgeon said, "The Lord gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction."

The Apostle Paul knew this to be true. Look at the godliest saints you know. They have likely known enormous suffering. Two of my favorites are Corrie Ten Boom and Elisabeth Elliot.

Elisabeth Elliot is a saint who has suffered much. She lost her first husband, Jim Elliot, on the mission field in Ecuador, when he was murdered by the Auca Indians. She lost her second husband to cancer. She also has suffered much persecution for her stand for the truth of God's Word in a compromising world. In her book, A Path Through Suffering, she recounts the day she was waiting to find out whether or not her 2nd husband had cancer. She wrote that she had just found an apartment for her aging mother, visited a friend whose son had been killed, talked with Jill, whose 3 year old had a serious heart condition, and was now waiting in the hospital. As she waited, she wrote down on a scrap of piece of paper the following:


How to deal with suffering of any kind:
1. Recognize it
2. Accept it
3. Offer it to God as a sacrifice
4. Offer yourself with it

-With the Master by Susan Heck


In her own book, A Path Through Suffering, Elisabeth Elliot has this to say about Corrie Ten Boom:

Corrie Ten Boom was a woman of strong faith and a radiant face. Why? Not because she had not suffered, but because she had, and had responded to the suffering with trust. Learning the depth of human helplessness and weakness, she turned to her "strong tower" and He was faithful to His promises. One of the most soul- fortifying pictures I have of her in my mind is of her getting up in the morning, standing up in her solitary cell, and singing in a loud voice so that other prisoners could hear, "Stand up, Stand up for Jesus!"

"Oh, I never could have survived," we say. Well, we were not asked to. But we could have if the Lord had allowed us to be put in her position, and if we had responded as Corrie did, looking to Him for the next grace. I mean, of course, that we could have survived spiritually. The body they may kill, but so what? Jesus said, "Do not fear those who kill the body and after that have nothing more they can do. I will warn you whom to fear: fear Him who, after He has killed, hast Authority to case into hell."

In other words, fear God and become fearless. Nothing in heaven or earth or hell can scare you.


Does this mean I should wish for suffering?

Of course not. Christians should not sit around with a dark mood, wishing for God to "beat them up."

Rather, we should fix our mind on what is true, honest, just pure, lovely, of good report, and virtuous. (Phil 4:8)

When the hard times come, we can call out for deliverance as the Psalmist:

Psalm 13

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him,"
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

And then we speak to our own souls. This is how Psalm 13 ends:

But I have trusted in Your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because He has dealt bountifully with me.

The Psalmist, who feels forgotten by God, does not suppress his emotions. He acknowledges them. He faces them head on.
And then he tells them the truth.

And that brings me to my final point. The truth and the hope.

Christian, you must stand strong.

In the Scriptures, God shows us that He has us live for the day:

Matthew 6:24-27

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

So have hope. He sees you. You are not forgotten. You are of infinite more value to him then the birds He cares for.

In 2 Corinthians chapter 1, we see that Paul experience some type of affliction in Asia which caused such a despair that they thought they might die. Yet, it was so that they could not rely on themselves but on God. Relying on ourselves brings us to hopelessness. We're limited in our abilities, our finances, our knowledge. God is unlimited in all of these. Set your hope on Him.

So,

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

Know that is is okay to ask for deliverance.


I covered this briefly before but we see this theme all throughout the Psalms.

Psalm 3:3-4 
But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head. 
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and He answered me from His holy hill.

Psalm 4:1
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious and hear my prayer.


Psalm 5:1-2
Give ear to my words, O Lord;
consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.

Psalm 6:2-3
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord- how long?

I could go on, but I encourage you to pray the Psalms. Use the format and turn your own prayers to the Lord.

Wait on the Lord for His timing and His ways.

God's ways are higher than ours (Isa 55:8-9).
While trusting in His character (see part one of the blog), knowing this is for our good, and crying out to God for deliverance, we are to wait on Him.

Psalm 37:5
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him, and He will act.

Psalm 27:14- Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

Exodus 14:14- The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.


Last year, when God allowed me to get completely to the end of myself, He showed me that He was the All Sufficient One. He taught me to rest in Him through my darkest of days. And then, when it looked the the treatment was completely beyond reach, He taught me that He alone was my provider.

These truths are what sustained me. These gospel truths are what gave me hope. It is my deepest prayer that they will do the same for you.


There is nothing more emphasized in the New Testament Epistles than this quality of just keeping on whether things go well with us or not. We are to go on saying:
'God knows what is best for me. I will trust in God. Even though He slay me yet I will trust in Him.' That is patient endurance, keeping on, and it is as we are tried and tested that all these other elements which go to furnish our faith become developed and are perfected.

There is nothing which so certifies the genuineness of a man's faith as his patience and his patient endurance, his keeping on steadily in spite of everything.

-Martyn Lloyd Jones 
Spiritual Depression





No comments:

Post a Comment