The problem of our pain and suffering has a source and if we do not understand that source then we will not understand the solutions that God provides. The problem that exists in this world is sin. If we do not place the blame on sin, then we will not understand the answers God provides in the Bible. Sin is the cause and reason for pain and suffering.
Sin began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:6). We find in the rest of Genesis 3 that every area of life was dramatically affected by sin. This sin has touched the world around us. The entire message of the Bible from Genesis 3 on is how God is dealing with this sin problem. Let us look at some of the solutions to this problem.
The first solution to the problem of evil and suffering is to understand your purpose. The Bible tells us that our purpose is to know God (Philippians 3:10). This may not give a solution but it may give you motivation to endure what you are going through. There are two ways to find a purpose in your suffering. The first is to know that God wants you holy, not happy (1 Peter 1:15). This may mean that the suffering that is taking place is intended to make you a better person. God does not care how happy you are if you are leading a life that will end up in hell! The suffering that comes from our personal sin helps us turn back to God. We must also remember that some of the things we endure make us look to a loving, heavenly Father for answers. Another perspective from your purpose of knowing God is that the pain and suffering may be a test of spiritual maturity. Do you love God for God’s sake, or for what you get from God? Much of the pain we endure can bring about glory for God or can remind us about spiritual truths. Death is a reminder of our short time on earth. Suffering as a Christian can be a testament to others who see our faith. Just enduring suffering with an understanding that God still loves us is an amazing tool for evangelism and encouragement. These two areas of knowing God help us to look at pain, evil, and suffering differently.
The second solution to pain and suffering is that we need to understand that on the cross, Jesus did the ultimate judo move to sin. If sin is the ultimate enemy, then what Jesus accomplished on the cross defeats its power. What is the essence of the marital art of judo? To use your enemy’s strengths against them! Think about what Jesus does for us on the cross. 1) He defeated all the political evil that exists in the world. He was tried and found guilty unjustly by Pontius Pilate. 2) He also defeated all the religious evils. The Pharisees and Sadducees called for his arrest and crucifixion. 3) All the Satanic evil was defeated. Satan entered Judas’ heart to turn Jesus over to the authorities. These three areas were turned against themselves with Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection three days later. There is hope for us all in the fact that the cross took the evil in the world and defeated it!
The third area is my personal favorite. We need to understand that in the end God makes everything new! Revelation 21:5 says this, “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” Stop and think about this for just a second. God does not say, “Behold, I am making all new things.” What God says is that “I am making all things new,” in that order. God, in the end, takes all that is wrong in the world and put it back to what is right! Romans 8 gives an even clearer picture when it says in verse 21, “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Even the evils that fall on us from the physical world will be made right in the end! The final message of the Bible is that in the end, God makes everything new! What has existed in this sinful, broken world will be made right in the end. Isn’t that more of what we long for than just a simple answer in the midst of our suffering?
As we close, I am reminded of the words of C. S. Lewis when we think of the day when Christ returns and turns all that is wrong back to the way God wants it to be. Lewis says, “they say of some temporal suffering, ‘no future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.” Today, we eagerly wait for that glory and we need to understand that with Christ’s work on the cross all pain, evil, and suffering has been defeated!