About twelve years ago we were part of a church group in an inner-city estate in Sheffield. There was a great family in that community with three sweet kids. One of them was a six year old girl. Fast forward twelve years and that six year old is now eighteen years old, a faithful friend of Jesus, and a great writer! I stumbled across her blog a few weeks ago and particularly loved one of her posts. So I asked her if I could share it here. It’s on a topic many of us find difficult to get our heads round but I think Rachael gives a great perspective and a challenge to us all. Rachael, thank you so much for your wisdom and insight and for allowing me to share your post.
I’ve been asked a lot lately to try and tackle the “Why does God allow suffering?” deal. It’s a big question, and one that I am not wise enough or confident enough to even begin to start looking at in any detail. In fact, it is such a huge question that no one on earth really has any authority to come to any conclusions.
It says in 1 Corinthians 13 v. 12 that “All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then [as in when I get to Heaven] I will know everything completely, just as God knows me completely.”
No one knows the answer to this question apart from God. But I’m still going to throw around a few ideas. Please comment if you think differently. I have tried with all my heart to stick firmly to the Bible for fear of being heretic but I would very much appreciate your thoughts/criticisms/angry rants. You have my permission to declare this a complete balls-up if needs be! Anyways, here goes!
A while back I saw a piece in the newspaper entitled “WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD?!”, and it invited people to write in, explaining their thoughts.
The winning article said this:
The world is broken and we broke it. The amazing thing about God is that He gives us the dignity to choose not to follow Him. He created us for a relationship of love, and real love is loving out of free choice. A man wouldn’t truly love his fiance if he put a gun to her head and screamed “MARRY ME OR DIE!”. Basically, the human race told God to shove off. And out of love for us, he let us have it our way. The world is broken and we broke it.
So… what now?
The beauty of Jesus is that he entered into our suffering completely, went into the ultimate consequence of our sin (death), came into our suffering and walked with us: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because You are with me.”
God responds to suffering by taking it on himself. It says in Joel that it hurts the Father to see His children suffer. He’d rather suffer himself than be separated from us.
As a Christian I believe I am called to be Jesus to the people around me that suffer.
I suppose for me that means when I ask God “God, why are you allowing this?!”, I believe God is saying back to me “Rach, why are you allowing this?!”
The Father is calling us to enter into situations of suffering and shine His light there.
And what then?
Read Revelation. No, actually do.
I know it’s confusing and rather scary in some parts, but it is a book of hope.
“There will come a day when there is no suffering or hurting or pain…”
Revelation says that in the end, GOD WINS.
C.S Lewis says in one of his books (“The Great Divorce”, I think) that “Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and transform even the greatest earthly suffering into glorious joy.”
… I definitely paraphrased that, but it’s something along those lines.
The Bible gives us hope that one day our suffering will end once and for all, and we’ll have perfect joy.
I can’t really add any more. I’m just glad that one day I’ll get to Heaven and my first words will be “Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, now I understand.”
by Rachael Hattam