How Could God Allow All of This Suffering? (Part 3)
April 2, 2020
(3rd of a 5-part Series)
God is Love (1 of 2)
When it comes to the love of God, 1 John 4:8 is often quoted. The last part of the verse says, “God is love.” This means that not only is He loving but He is, in reality, the epitome, the embodiment, or the very essence of love. There is no love like His. Or better yet, there is no love like Him.
But then, how can a loving God allow such pain to take place in a world that He had created? Well, it is precisely because of His love that we go through pain and suffering in this world. Let me explain this in two ways.
First of all, in his book, “A Grief Observed,” C.S. Lewis once said, “What do people mean when they say, ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good’? Have they never even been to a dentist?” (1961) When people think about loving someone, they see it in the sense of wanting the other person to always be happy. This means that this person always ought to be protected at all times so that he or she will never get hurt. But just as a good and well-meaning dentist performs a painful, and sometimes traumatic, extraction on a patient, God who is loving can allow his people to go through difficult experiences because He knows that this is good and necessary for them. Because such circumstances often are needed to bring about certain good results in the life of the person who goes through it.
Parents know this all too well. No matter how it pains them to let a person go through time-out or even spanking or paddling, they know that they had to do it because it will result in the proper disciplining of a child, if done properly. The Apostle Paul himself in 1 Corinthians 9:27 said, and I paraphrase (grossly), “I beat my body black and blue to keep it in check so that after telling people about it, I won’t be missing the boat myself.” (Yeah, I know. Just go ahead and check the better versions.) The point here is that Paul knows that to keep himself in check, he had to go through the difficult process of discipline.
But you ask, what does COVID-19 have anything to do with being disciplined? Spiritual maturity. The Bible says,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
But for many people in the world, spiritual discipline and spiritual maturity are the last things that they would even consider. And so, God allows people to go through pain and suffering to get their attention to things that they need to see, learn, understand, and change, whether this be on a personal, national, or global level. Again I quote C.S. Lewis as he said in his book, “The Problem of Pain”, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” (1940)
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