On Sunday nights the youth are doing a Bible study called "The God Questions" where we look at different questions that are asked and answer them in order to be able to better defend the faith. One of those questions is "If God is so good then why is there bad/suffering in the world?" This can be a tough question to answer, and not one we normally like to look at but is what God led me to preach on this week.
The main scripture used was John 16:33 where we hear something from Jesus that can be a little disturbing- You will suffer. He doesn't say this to discourage us to encourage us to be prepared so we won't be blind sided.
We know that suffering and evil goes hand in hand. The evil in the world is what brings us suffering. There are 2 types of evil- natural and moral. Natural evil is the kind of evil that occurs naturally- tornadoes, floods, sickness, etc. Moral evil is inflicted on one person by another. This accounts for about 95% of all evil in the world.
Some people ask if God created evil. The answer to that is definitely NO. God created man and woman with free will so that they could choose to love Him or not. This is the only way genuine love could occur because if God forced us to love Him, then it would not be genuine. With the freedom to choose, humans unfortunately chose to bring about evil in the world. We read this in the first few chapters of Genesis and the account of Adam and Eve. So some people then ask the questions- "If God knew we would sin then why did He create us?" I believe we can best answer that question like this: When parents are deciding whether or not they want to have a child, they are not promised anything. They are not promised that the child would be perfectly healthy, born without birth defects. They are not promised that they child would never experience heart ache. They are not promised that at some point the child would disappoint them. But they still choose to have the child. Why? Because they want to have a genuine love relationship with the child that is created in their own image and the love and joy completely outweighs any potential pain. That is the same reason that God chose to create us, because He desired to have a loving relationship with each and every one of us.
So can anything good come from suffering? Of course if you let it. Here are 5 ways that God uses suffering in our lives.
1) God Uses Trials to Direct Me -or- Draw Me to Him- when we suffer we usually cling to God. When 9/11 occurred people packed out the churches because it got their attention and they decided to cling to God, for a season at least.
2) God Uses Trials to Inspect Me -or- Test Me- we read in James 1:2-3 that when our faith is tested.... A test is given with the desire for success. God gives us tests with the desire for us to succeed and grow from it. Sometimes maybe even to see where our loyalty lies.
3) God Uses Trials to Correct Me- David wrote in Psalm 119:71 that God used trials to correct him. We have to be corrected when we mess up. When a child see their child doing something wrong they discipline them, if not then they make a huge mistake because the child will continue to repeat the mistake over and over. God corrects us because He loves us and doesn't want us to repeat the same mistakes.
4) God Uses Trials to Inspect Me- this may be a situation we never realize is taking place. Such occurrences might be like car trouble stalling you and you end up missing a traffic accident.
5) God Uses Trials to Perfect Me- This doesn't mean we become perfect, but instead we are being molded and shaped to be more like Jesus Christ. Romans 5:3-4 tells us that our character is strengthened when we suffer.
If you are suffering or going through a tough season right now, be encouraged. We read in Hebrews 13:5 that God will never leave us nor forsake you, He will never abandon you. What a wonderful promise! God is walking beside you through every tough moment, crying with you, wanting to hold your hand along the way. Also we learn in Romans 8:18 that when we someday get to Heaven that our suffering will be nothing in comparison to the wonder that we will be surrounded by. When we are spending eternity worshiping God, we won't even care about the pains we endured on earth. If you are suffering right now know that God wants to pull you out of the pit, but you must first be willing to reach up and take hold of His hand first. You have a choice to make: you can allow difficult times to either make you bitter, or they can make you better.