The Problem of Pain & Suffering – Part 3

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By Slim Killens

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea…And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be o more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1,4 NKJV.

When God created all things, “it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Everything was beautiful, lovely and peaceful until man sinned by disobeying Him (Genesis 3:14-19) introducing pain, suffering and death into the world (the consequences of their actions effected the entire creation even today). Sin is always, with rare exceptions, the main cause of pain, suffering and death in one’s life.  Because of Adam’s disobedience, it was necessary that God prescribe to him the penalty of death which has passed down to all mankind (Genesis 3:16-17). However, in His love, God introduce the first act of substitutionary atonement – the shedding of an animal’s blood – to cover the sin of Adam and Eve (eating from the tree of good and evil). Finally, God sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. This was sufficient for God to hold back the immediate sting of physical death that we all deserve.

“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” I Peter 4:1-2 NKJV

Consider the last 100 years (1914-2014), how many people died at the hands of humans? Our decisions often have lasting effects for generations. Even the creation suffers because of man’s sin (see Romans 8:22).  The pain, suffering and death conducted in recent history by the hands of humanity (over two-hundred-ten million people) approximately two-thirds of our current American population. Over two-hundred million people suffered and died through warfare and other means: WWI, WWII (Adolf Hitler), Communism (Lenin, Stalin), Pol-Put, Vietnam, the United States Supreme Court legalizing abortion in 1973 and Planned Parenthood-Abortion clinics (murdered sixty-two million innocent unborn babies), Jim Crow laws (Racism, Segregation, lynching), Tuskegee Syphilis Study (Black Males denied treatment), Japanese Internment Camps, Islamic terrorism, Crusades, etc. How shocking! In less than one-hundred years, humans that consider themselves loving and caring, rarely blink an eye as they justify the legal destruction and murdering of millions of people for personal financial gain. 

All of the disasters or events listed below have been the main cause of pain, suffering and death for humanity.  I am, however, convinced that more people have suffered and died through human disasters (often for personal gain) than by any natural disasters (or Acts of God).

Human disasters – War, politics, religion, education, famine, disease, PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), science, malpractice suits, health issues (malignant and/or chronic pain), abortion, AIDS, mental illness, murder, terrorism, rape, kidnapping, beheadings, lynching, torture, physical abuse, bullying, drugs lying, cheating, stealing, identity thief, divorce, suicide, fratricide, drugs and alcohol.  

Or Natural disasters (Acts of God) – Tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, forest fires, wild and domestic animals, etc. These are the consequences of being given freewill to choose to obey or disobey the Creator, Almighty God.  What people don’t understand is how great the effects sin has on society. A good analogy for how rampant sin can be is by using the ‘compound interest’ banking term.  How much money would you have if you took one dollar and doubled it each day for 30 days. You might take a good guess of one-million dollars or ten-million dollars. Wrong.  By the end of thirty days you will have over one-half billion dollars ($536 million dollars). So, it is with sin. Each individual acting within his/her personal understanding of a moral construct, without acknowledging objective right and wrong, especially in relation to God’s Truth – multiplied by 100s of millions of people – produces an aggressive virus called ‘compound sinfulness’ contributing to pain, suffering and death. These actions are often demonstrated in politics, justice system, business, economics, religion, education, science and law enforcement which is systemic. As each individual conduct himself/herself in sinful ways it exacerbates the cumulative pain and suffering towards mankind.

The Christian worldview on suffering is often in contrast to that of a secular worldview. For the believer, our hope rests in Christ Jesus who has overcome the power of death through his crucifixion and resurrection – and that hope of glory will be revealed in those who put their trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Since the beginning of creation, God has set before each individual the capability to obey or disobey Him and receive the just benefits or just consequences for their actions. God’s moral character remains the same yesterday, today and forever, meaning into the future.  This is reiterated over and over throughout the Bible. God is no respecter of persons and shows personal favoritism to no man (see Hebrews 13:8; Acts 10:34-35).  God’s moral character demands that He set perimeters and conditions in order that mankind may be guided properly by His natural and spiritual laws.

“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all Hid commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 28:1-2. NKJV

“And the Lord said to Moses…and this people (the Children of Israel) will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. Then my anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ And I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they had done, in that they have turned to other gods.” Deuteronomy 31:16-18. NKJV

“…that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation…How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate…” Matthew 24:35-38. NKJV

“Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.  And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent…I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts.  And I will give to each one of you according to your works.” Revelation 2:20-21, 23. NKJV

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked…” Revelation 3:15-17. NKJV

As God has demonstrates His moral character in the past with the Children of Israel – obedience brings blessings and disobedience brings curses – so God continues with His Christian church today (obedience brings blessings and disobedience brings curses).  God’s moral character does not change. He will always deliver His faithful and obedient children, sometimes through tedious journeys of pain and suffering, even unto the end – whether in life or death.

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your father in heaven…” Matthew 5:44-45a NKJV

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me…Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  John 14:1, 27.  NKJV

“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer…Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10. NJKV.

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  Revelation 21:4 NKJV