“Most people would probably look around at the world and say, “God did a great job in making the universe, but He made one mistake by allowing so much suffering and pain.” Phillip Yancey was called to speak to parents in Newtown, Connecticut after the Sandy Hook shooting. They wanted him to come and speak about pain and suffering. He was in the middle of research for a new book he was writing. He was thinking that often the question that people ask is, “Where is God when it hurts?”
But the harder question is, “Where is no-God when it hurts?” Phillip Yancey said, “Atheists are never asked to speak at places like Sandy Hook Elementary School because whatever they would have to say would never be comforting to the parents. They ask a Pastor or Christian Leader to speak because what they have to say is filled with hope.” They would say, “What happened was tragic and should not have happened. We should be angry at this kind of evil. However, we believe there is a good God who will make all things work together for your good if you trust Him.”
George Barna did a survey several years ago and asked people, “If you could ask God one question and you knew that He would give you an answer, what question would you ask God?” The number one question was, “Why would You allow so much evil, suffering and pain on earth?”
Jesus made it clear that believers would be persecuted. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). In Luke’s version of the Beatitudes He also said, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!” (Luke 6:22). Paul also challenged Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Peter is a good person to ask because he addresses suffering at least twenty-one times in this letter. Turn in your Bibles with us to 1 Peter 4. “12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him”
“So often we subconsciously buy into the lie that suffering should not happen to us if we are “living right.” We think that just because we are doing all the right things in the right way for the right reasons, we should be protected from suffering. In the aftermath of events 9/11, there was an article published where one of the wives whose husband was on Flight 93 called her to alert the authorities to what was happening. She said in the article her first thought when talking to her husband was, “No, this can’t be happening. We have good jobs and great kids. Things like this just don’t happen to people like us.”
We do that spiritually sometimes without even thinking about it. We go to God like the person in court who is “wrongly accused.” We tell God, “God, I am doing all the right stuff. I am reading your Word, I am worshipping You, I am sharing the gospel, I am praying, I am growing in my faith, etc. This shouldn’t be happening to me.” But the reality of it all is we are rightly accused and what is happening is justified because we are a Christ follower. Jesus said His followers were no different than Him. He suffered while on the earth so we will suffer as well.
If only “bad” people had bad things happen to them, we would think that makes much more sense. If the hardest of criminals, evil people, and people who are living in rebellion against God were the only ones who suffered we would probably see that as true justice. When we ask about suffering in the world and why there is so much evil that is just a sign that we know there is supreme good. For example, when an exam is given in class and one student makes a 90, one student makes a 70, and one student makes a 40, that means there is a standard of 100 it is .
“have been refined by God in the furnace of adversity. Following Jesus means suffering is the norm and not the exception. Suffering is not just philosophical . . . it’s very real! C.S. Lewis was asked, “Why do the righteous suffer?” and he said, “Why not? They are the only ones that can take it.” As believers we have hope and with our focus on that hope we will endure it differently than people who are not believers and do not have hope.”
“It is the theme of the book. In Chapter One he talks about being “grieved by various trials.” In Chapter Two he mentions that Christ suffered”. “When you suffer you have to discern what it is you are going through and why you are going through it. Discern The Source Of Suffering. There are three general types of suffering in the Bible. There is common suffering. We all live in a broken world and as a result of the brokenness in the world, there is suffering all around us. There is carnal suffering. “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” (1 Peter 4:15). When you are suffering you need to ask, “Is this a trial or a consequence?”
So often people will say, “We are going through a terrible trial right now.” But when you take a closer look, you realize that’s not a trial but a consequence for your actions. You need to take a hard look at the situation because the way out is totally different. The way out of a consequence is by making things. with God through repentance and making things right with others through restitution. You get yourself into a consequence but God allows you to go through a trial.