3-Ways God Views Suffering

Life's Not Fair

Josh Hossler | 04/15/2018

Two brothers were getting ready to boil some eggs to color for Easter. ‘I’ll give you a dollar if you let me break three of these on your head,” said the older one. ‘Promise?” asked the younger. ‘Promise!” Gleefully, the older boy broke two eggs over his brother’s head. Standing stiff for fear the gooey mess would get all over him, the little boy asked, ‘When is the third egg coming?” ‘It’s not,” replied the brother. ‘That would cost me a dollar.” Source Unknown

Life’s not fair! Every one of us has had things happen to us that just don’t seem fair. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. Why? Why does God allow suffering?

The story of Jesus isn’t fair. Matthew 27 tells some of the events that lead up to what we celebrate this weekend, not just the death, but the resurrection of God’s son, Jesus Christ.

Verse 15 “Now it was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”

If you aren’t familiar with the story you might think that Pilate didn’t know much about Jesus. Quite the contrary. Scripture tells us that Pilate said at least a few things about Jesus, one of which was “With Jesus, I find no fault in him.” At another place he says, “I will have nothing to do with this innocent man.”

So Pilate, knowing that Jesus was innocent, asked… Matthew 27:21-22 (NIV) 21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. 22“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”

It doesn’t seem fair. I don’t have the answers to what you may be going through but I can offer some hope. There are a couple of ways to view suffering and I think the story of Jesus gives us that hope.

3-TYPES OF SUFFERING

  1. POOR DECISION SUFFERING
    Have you ever been there? Barabbas was set up to suffer, and had they sentenced him to death, it would have been deserved, because of some poor decisions he made. Jesus was about to suffer because of the poor decisions of others. You and I can experience extreme suffering simply because of poor decisions, either our own or others.As a kid, I wanted to play batman for Halloween… So I did what batman does, I flew…for a second. I didn’t land well on the concrete side-walk. My teeth went through my lower lip. I still have the scare to this day. It was incredibly painful! I suffered as a result of my own poor choices. Maybe you’ve also experienced this kind of suffering.
  2. BROKEN WORLD SUFFERING
    Sometimes the suffering we experience is simply a result of the broken world that we live in. Cars break down and rust. Things break. Plants wither. Loved ones get cancer. People grow old… simply because we live in a broken world.

    John 16:33 (NIV) “In this world you will have trouble.”

    In Jesus case, the crowds released a known murder, and condemned an innocent man to die! It’s a broken system. It’s pure evil! We live in a broken world.

    Some of the suffering we go through is simply a result of life on a broken planet. We live in a broken world with disease and death and things that don’t go the way they should… It’s just kind of part of life…

    I know that’s not a good enough answer for you’re suffering. And honestly, we begin to question God’s motives. But in these moments, I need to remind myself that God’s ways are higher than my ways… and God’s plan is to one day once and for all redeem the broken world problem. That doesn’t help us now though. That leads us to the third kind of suffering…

  3. PURPOSE DRIVEN SUFFERING
    Often times God allows us to experience suffering because it accomplishes something in our lives – it has a purpose. God allows suffering for two main purposes:a) Sometimes God allows suffering because suffering draws us closer to God. Have you ever noticed how quickly we turn to God in times of trouble, either to blame him or ask for help?

    “GOD WHISPERS TO US IN OUR PLEASURE, SPEAKS TO US IN OUR CONSCIENCE, BUT SHOUTS TO US IN OUR PAINS; IT IS HIS MEGAPHONE TO ROUSE A DEAF WORLD.” C.S. LEWIS

    You might be going through something extremely difficult right now. Maybe God’s trying to get your attention. There’s something He’s wanting to accomplish in you. There is a purpose; there is a reason. He’s trying to draw you closer to Him.

    b) Sometimes God allows suffering because suffering produces new life! There is always new life on the other side of suffering!! There is light at the end of the tunnel! Eventually you come through on the other side and on the other side there is new life!! Think about this. What is the season of spring all about? Winter is the suffering and spring is the season of new life! But you don’t have one without the other. There is a joy and new life that is only found on the other side of pain and suffering.

Your suffering has a purpose! It is accomplishing something. It’s not pointless suffering! God wants to produce and bring new life to you on the other side of this pain. It may produce in you a new sense of purpose. It may produce in your life re-kindled relationships. It may produce in you a fresh and total dependence on God. What ever the case, it has a purpose. There’s actually a tremendous amount of HOPE in suffering, because suffering accomplishes something. Why would God allow even His own Son to go through such horrible suffering as crucifixion? Because it was accomplishing something!

John 19:30 (NIV) From the cross “Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

In the Greek this phrase is a single word: tetelestai! It is a shout of triumph: “It is accomplished!” Archaeologists have found invoices inscribed on pottery from the first century AD. Many have tetelestai written across them, signifying, “Paid in full.” When Jesus cried out “It is finished!” He was declaring “paid in full”. When Jesus suffered on the cross, he accomplished for us what we could never accomplish for ourselves. He paid our sin debt in full! “It is finished/accomplished!

Why does God allow suffering? I can’t tell you exactly why God allowed you to go through what you’ve gone through, but I believe that ultimately, God is allowing these things to happen to draw you closer to Him and to produce new life in you!

We don’t like pain. We don’t like suffering but sometimes the pain produces power. Some times what is dead comes back to life. What is old is made new. What we thought was lost is once again found. What we thought was defeat was really just death being swallowed up in victory once and for all. Take heart, the tomb is empty, Jesus has overcome!

John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Josh Hossler | Lead Pastor

Josh is the founding and Lead Pastor of Evident Church. He is passionate about helping people find their purpose and follow Jesus. Josh enjoys his family, preaching, leadership, writing, and is also is an adjunct professor of philosophy at Rochester University in Rochester Hills, MI. He and his wife Raelyn, have three daughters, AvaRae, AdaLyn, and AnaBel.

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