by Shawn Brasseaux
Our world is greatly suffering from sadness, distress, agony, sickness, decay, and death. Millions of people are starving in third world countries right now! Everyday, thousands die because of a wide range of medical problems including heart disease, AIDS, and cancer. Some human fetuses are born with deformities such as open spines and multiple limbs; others have mental disabilities. Sadly, these poor people suffered horribly the last few moments of their lives, dying in the midst of suffering. Why are certain people unable to speak, hear, or see? Is it something they did, or something their parents did? Are birth defects God’s fault? Why does God allow such extreme forms of suffering? In this Bible study, let us briefly look at what God’s Word has to say.
Notice the question that the apostles asked in John 9:1-3 KJV:
“1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
The blind man was not blind because of his sin or his parents’ sin; he was blind because he was born in a fallen world, a planet that is under the curse of sin and corruption. Had the man not been born blind, there would be no need to heal him! By the way, this is one of the many miracles the Lord Jesus Christ performed in His earthly ministry in order to prove that He was their Messiah-King, the Son of God (cf. Acts 2:22).
Some time ago, I had a deaf classmate in my communication class at college. A woman would communicate the lesson to him in sign language. I often wonder what the lessons must have been like for him. He never actually heard the words; he would only “see” them. What exactly is that like? When I “talked” to him, it was by writing on a sheet of paper, and he would write back.
So, why does God allow the suffering in our world? The skeptics often ask this question with the intention of making fun of the Christian to whom they are speaking. Still, it is a question that we must answer. Why does God permit the suffering in our world? There is a loving God, so why is there suffering? In order to allow opportunity for more lost people to be saved, the Lord has to postpone His earthly kingdom. Whenever Christ returns at His Second Coming, He will set up His earthly kingdom and remove all the suffering that the world currently experiences.
God does not direct suffering. Our suffering has four sources: (1) a result of our own bad decisions, (2) the bad decisions of others, (3) the curse brought on by sin, or (4) suffering for being a Christian. The devil, Satan, also contributes to the suffering in our world. It is merely God’s permissive will that allows the suffering to continue. Disabled people are of no less value than anyone else. The Lord even died to save them!
Originally, creation had no flaws, no suffering, no death, and no decay. Once Adam decided to sin against God, the Scriptures say that “death [came] by sin” (Romans 5:12-21). According to Genesis 3, God responded to Adam’s disobedience by introducing a curse in our universe (verses 14-19). It is noteworthy to mention that Satan exacerbates this suffering; the devil inflicts his own pain and damage to make it worse. Let us see the passage that describes the curse of sin on creation. Genesis 3:14-19 KJV:
“14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
In Romans 8:18-25, the Apostle Paul expounds on curse, explaining it in greater detail than Genesis.
“18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”
Creation is waiting for the day when the curse is removed, once the King Jesus Christ sets up His glorious millennial kingdom on earth. Until then, the Holy Spirit moved Paul to write that we will continue to groan and travail in pain together. One day—one day soon—there will be no more suffering in our world, and the devil will be confined. When we Christians are raptured, which occur before Christ’s earthly kingdom, we will receive glorious bodies that will not be subject to sin, sickness, or death (1 Corinthians 15:51-55; 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:5; Philippians 3:20,21).
While there are all sorts of problems and heartache in our world, I know that we are not familiar with the horrendous, excruciating pain the Jesus Christ experienced all those years ago in order to save us. It was pain that He did not deserve but to which he willingly subjected Himself. Jesus Christ (God incarnate) lived in an ordinary human body, and He grew sick too! He probably had family members who even grew sick and died. Although Christ did not sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 Peter 2:22), He lived among sinful people, people who caused Him more pain than we could ever experience. His own creation rejected Him, and they preferred a murderer! He never said a word of defense, by the way… just something to think on whenever we complain of our own suffering.