Our church family meeting tonight was awesome! We were looking at the Bible’s teaching on God’s sovereignty, especially in relation to suffering. It’s such a real topic. In fact, to call it a topic is to stray dangerously close to something we tried to get away from tonight: neat, theological, mathematical answers. Instead, suffering is part and parcel of our life on this earth and the fact is that some people will suffer horrendously more than others with no clear reason.
But despite this, the Bible has some really awesome, and I mean awesome, things to say about suffering and where God is in the midst of it…
- It is very amazing that God is sovereign over His world, and thus over all evil and suffering – in Acts 4 His hand is at work, and His plan working out, even in the evil and sinful acts of Herod and Pilate…
- In Luke 13 Jesus presents suffering (both tragedy and murder) as signs of His coming judgement, and as loving calls to urgent repentance. His very wanting us to repent is his mercy, his kindness, his love – does that just make you go ‘Woah!’?
- Throughout the life of Jesus we see Him knowing firsthand the agony of personal pain: weeping with indignation at Lazarus’ death, and the unimaginable pain in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14.32…). Peter writes that the cross (1 Peter 2.19…) should be our example in our suffering, that we’d entrust ourselves to Him who judges justly.
- And this last one’s good news too: God has acted to save us, promising a new creation with no more suffering or death. I think John puts it better:
21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
There is a promise telling of an end to suffering, by a God who keeps his promises, with the cross and the Spirit as guarantee.
And we know that for those who love God ALL THINGS work together for GOOD [God’s good, which is the best kind of good incidentally], for those who are called according to HIS purpose [again, the best kind of purpose].
Paul in his letter to the Romans, chapter 8 verse 27.