It’s one of the oldest questions man has asked; If there is a God that exists who is all powerful and all loving why would he allow his creatures to crawl through crap?
I had the privilege of trying to tackle this problem where I looked at 4 questions of Suffering: Whose to blame?, Can any good come from it?, Where is God in it? and Why does he allow it? Follow the link if you want to listen to the 30 minute talk or follow on for a synopsis: http://www.emmanuel.org.uk/resources/audiospeaker.php?filter=Chris%20Frost
The brutal truth is that there are no easy answers and just like any relationship it takes a battle of questioning, wrestling and ultimately trusting to find faith in the fires of suffering. However the one big answer we do have is the cross of Jesus. To paraphrase Piper: “I couldn’t believe in a God of love if it were not for the cross”, for it’s in the cross we get to see that:
Much of the worlds wrong is our fault
When things go wrong we shake our angry fists and gritted teeth at God, funny how little thanks he gets when things go right! But is he really to blame? Some have estimated that human suffering is 95% the fault of humans, i.e. directly through rape, murder and wars or indirectly through lack of care for the poor or building on earthquake fault lines.
This is what the cross shows us in the most grotesque form: that when humanity is faced with peace, love and truth in its purest perfection there is something in us that wants to hit at it, spit on it and kill it. This is what we did to Jesus and would do again and again. The cross therefore shows us all that we are to blame, we all have blood on our hands.
The cross shows us that Jesus was familiar with suffering. Do you feel despairing? rejected? lonely? full of pain? abandoned? bereaved?
or are you in poverty? hunger? torture? imprisonment? Well so was He. Where is God when it hurts? The cross shouts out loudly and clearly: He’s right there in the midst of it. Nothing you have been through, are going through or will go through can be worst than the cross; it’s His sign that He’ll never leave you no matter how hard it gets.
God has a plan
The cross was Christ’s signature to the new contract he created. This was the greatest suffering to pave the way to an existence without it. At the cross Jesus dealt the blow to death, the cursed creation and the great separation of man from God. Now by believing in him and his work we can with joy bring in his suffering-free kingdom and with hope look forward to the day when every tear will be wiped away forever.
Why Does God allow suffering? The cross is the answer, for it’s at the cross we see the worlds pains are primarily our problem, we see His desire to sit right with us when it hurts and we see that he has a plan to make everything better. Are you in?