For the Greatest Good

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, December 2, 2014 0 comments

by Bill Seng

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” (Matthew 5:10-11)

The problem of suffering is indeed a problem. I believe that many people struggle with the concept of the God of the Bible because they (who are good and innocent people) suffer and we are left wondering, “Where is this good, loving, and (above everything else) all-powerful God to deliver those who are orphans, widows, or worse from the horrendous sufferings that they must endure?” Did not God say that he would be an advocate for such people? Does God care that good people suffer if, indeed, he exists at all? For those who are asking these questions, I have answers, warnings, and joys to share with you from this point on.

Most people do not comprehend the depth of the curse of sin against this world. When mankind chose to become separate from God, all sorts of evils entered the world. Pain, suffering, and death became part of the natural human life cycle. Although God is absolutely good, he allowed mankind to follow its own desires which ultimately resulted in their deviation from him and away from eternal life (mankind’s natural state at creation). I’m sure one of my fellow blog writers will pick up this point and run with it, so I will leave this point at that. To say that suffering exists because of the entrance of sin answers a very serious question, but what about those who love God, or those who have never heard of Jesus but are seemingly good people?

A very important warning I would like to issue to all Christians is this: Jesus never said that you would not suffer. Have you ever heard the saying, “Momma always told me there would be days like this”? Whenever you as a Christian must suffer, remember, “Jesus always told me there would be days like this.” But instead of being mopey over your sufferings of bearing the name of Christ, remember that he encourages us to rejoice in our sufferings, as stated in the Scripture at the top of this post. The letter of 1 Peter, a letter that is only five chapters long, uses the word suffering more than any two books of the Bible combined (at least in the NIV). Read what Peter says in the fourth chapter of his letter: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Peter 4:12-14). Wow! He pretty much answered that question for Christians in those three verses! But what about non-Christians?

Did you notice that there is much suffering in the world? Many people across the globe suffer and die without knowing Jesus. Is this a tragedy? I believe it is. Why would God allow people to suffer and die without the opportunity to know the Gospel? That is a difficult question to answer, but my answer is simply to remind the reader that we must share the Gospel so that people do not die in vain. The Apostle Paul, for instance, referred to the pagan Greeks as people who existed as those “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12) Those same people he was referring to were exactly the same ones he was writing to and rejoicing over for the sake that they heard and received the Gospel of Christ. Amen! So we have a responsibility to take the Gospel to the world. The fate of those who have not heard of Christ, I will save for another day here in the near future.

What can we conclude about the existence of suffering thus far?

1) Suffering was not part of God’s original design.
2) All people suffer. Christians suffer for their own good and the glory of God and non-Christians suffer because they live in a sin cursed world.
3) A Christian who suffers for the name of Christ will be conformed to the image of Christ through his or her suffering.

Now, why do people suffer in the manner in which they do? If you want an answer to that question I am going to concede that I do not know. If you are a believer, I would like to encourage you to seek after God and to allow him to give you peace. If you are a non-believer, I would like to encourage you to seek out someone who knows God, or a church, or the Bible and see if it provides what you need to get through your predicament. Do not live without hope any longer. Submit to God’s love and turn your crown of thorns into a crown of glory.