Suffering and the often-accompanying evil affect every one of us at different intensities. Some of you have gone through painful hardship this past year. It could be health, it could be relationships. It could be death. It hurts. Does an all-seeing God care?
And why does a loving God even allow people to suffer?
Earlier this year I asked our readers if they could ask God one question, what would it be? I asked them to send their question on a card, and hundreds of questions came in. The majority of them had to do with the matter of suffering. Here are some of the replies:
• Why is there so much evil in the world, and why don’t you [God] stop it?
• Why do good, kind people suffer, and why do evil people prosper?
• Why did God allow evil to exist from the beginning of humanity?
• God, are you sad at the state of the world?
“Does a loving God use evil and suffering to accomplish a greater good?” And if so, how? We need more than an explanation to give us cold comfort. We need a hug.
On Oct. 7 I will be webcasting a live message on this subject that will be worth your while to listen to. It will be webcast from our annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration, coming from Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, in a message titled “Understanding Suffering in Order to Rejoice.” The Feast of Tabernacles is a time when the entire Church gathers annually to celebrate a coming world void of all the evil and pain that we see today. This prophecy of this new world best sums up our vision:
“‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new’” (Revelation 21:3-5 Revelation 21:3-5 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
American King James Version×).
But some of the natural questions would be :
1. How did it ever get to where pain and suffering entered into the human experience?
2. Why did it have to happen?
3. How will God fix all this?
In my message we will see man was given free will and the ability to make choices. Suffering is the result of having free will.
So if it was the free will of human beings that actually caused suffering and evil, why didn’t God just create a world where moral freedom didn’t exist in the first place? That way evil and suffering wouldn’t exist either!
God could have made a world without evil by just taking away our free will to do it. It would have been very easy for Him to just simply say, “Well I’m going to make you all puppets and we’ll pull the strings and everybody will do everything right.”
However, God wanted a group of tested individuals who choose to love Him and to love others. You cannot love someone unless you have the choice to not love him or her.
Free will was the source of suffering as mankind made a bad choice followed by continuing bad choices that brought on suffering. But one of the points that I will make in this message is that free will is also the solution to suffering.
I will go on to show you that the much greater pathway to freedom from suffering lies in the purpose of Jesus Christ’s suffering, and God the Father allowing His own Son to die.
What did that do? And how does it relate to us?
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the subject, which is very near and dear to us and all mankind. I want to help us understand and be comforted by the answer to this biggest of all questions.
Join me on our Webcast at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, Oct. 7 at https://www.ucg.org/webcast .