Over the past couple of weeks there certainly has been much suffering in the world. Many examples come to mind with all the spring storms, the Egyptian airliner that went down, and not to mention any suffering that the individuals who receive this message may have been through lately. No one is exempt, that is for sure.
I preached last Sunday from Romans 5 where the Apostle Paul (who suffered much for his faith) says it this way, ” but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” In the Common English Bible translation it reads, “we take pride in our problems…” I don’t know about that one. Maybe Paul did, but that is not my first response.
Some things come into our lives as a consequence of our behaviors (call it ‘sin’ or whatever you like). Then there are things that just happen because the conditions in the world were just right and it all came together. Tornadoes are a perfect example. In the midst of a storm which produces rain and brings good into our world, sometimes the elements of atmospheric pressure, a warm and cold front collide with some lift in the air and boom, we have a destructive force that hits the ground and wipes out everything in its path. Sometimes it will take one house away while leaving the one next door in tact. Then there is just plain evil in the world that seems to always be working against those who want to do right. Some try to make sense of such things by saying “God is testing us”, “God is in control”, “God has a plan” or “It is God’s will.” None of that particular logic makes sense to me when I believe in a loving God who created humankind in his image. As I read the scriptures this is a mystery that has been questioned by God’s people across the ages with not very clear answers. I do believe that we are challenged here on earth with all sorts of suffering, challenges and tragedy, and I do believe God is involved, only not in the way you might think.
I will continue to explore this subject next week with you and cite some key biblical stories that may help us come to a reasonable conclusion that might give some relief. Until then, stay strong, persevere and know that God is on your side!
Grace and peace!
Rex A. Dickey