Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Question #3: Why does a good, omnipotent God allow suffering?

First of all, the above question should probably be worded as follows: “Why does a perfectly good, perfectly omnipotent God allow suffering?” Or maybe, “Why does a perfectly good, perfectly omnipotent God cause suffering?”

Suffering is a real-life issue that many of us have to deal with. I am currently watching 1) my son’s hair fall out, and 2) his body fill with chemicals to treat his Lymphoma. On top of this, my two daughters probably feel a little like second-class citizens, and live in a place where they have no close friends.

The above question is one that entire books and dissertations have been written about. People have argued this for centuries. I do not, in this blog post, have the arrogance to think that I can make everyone happy with some sort of novel answer.

However, I do think that the above question is the wrong question to ask. This is the case for two reasons. First, it assumes that we have never rebelled against God. Second, it assumes that God owes us something good. Obviously, these are not the case.

So what should the correct question be? Maybe something like this, “Why does a perfectly holy, perfectly good, perfectly omnipotent God cause any good to happen to rebellious (all) people?”

I believe Ephesians 2:1-10 paints a very accurate picture for us. See the Biblical text here.

This is a familiar passage, so I will not bother to go through it all. As you know, we see a picture of our hapless state. We were all spiritually dead (not dying, but dead). We could do nothing about this. Then, in verse 4, which is one of my favorite verses in the Bible, we see God come to our rescue. And why does He do this? He does it out of His mercy, His love, and His grace.

We all know that this is a free gift of His to us. We rebelled (sinned), and He graciously saved us. It is that wonderful, that astounding, and that simple.

So when we are suffering, we need to be careful that we are asking the correct questions. As I watch my son suffer, I have to be careful not to allow my experiences to cause me to ask questions of God that are not fair to His character and His Word.

Which questions are you asking God? Are you asking the correct ones? Do you struggle with any of these issues? I would be interested to hear. I would also be interested to know what Bible passages you believe answer these questions.

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