One of the biggest things that make people question God is the evil that this world produces. Why would a God of love cause cancer, abuse, starvation, and other evil things in this world? These things have caused a lot of people do discredit God and have disbelief. At one point in time these things caused me to hate this so called God of love…
You see I come from a terrible past. I come from a past of sexual, mental, emotional, and physical abuse. For years I had to endure this. I would look at myself in the mirror and be disgusted. I felt dirty. Not because of my choices but because of those who chose to inflict their desires and actions on me in a negative way. I couldn’t understand why a God who is supposed to love me and protect me would abandon me and make me feel like a piece of dirt on the bottom of someones shoe. I didn’t understand why God would allow people to do such horrible things to me. I thought he must hate me since he allowed it and because of that, I hated him too. After years of hate and anguish God opened my eyes to something that would eliminate all doubt. This concept would open my eyes to understanding. This concept would give me hope and help me start the healing and forgiving process. The concept: Freedom of choice.
As I opened the pages of God’s love letter, also known as the bible, I began to see his love. I also began to see I wasn’t alone. I am not the only one who had to endure harsh suffering because of peoples stupid choices. It’s all over the bible. In mark 6:27-28 you can read about John the Baptist being beheaded because of a selfish woman who was upset that she was called out on her sin. The reason she got away with it is because the king who made another stupid choice was drunk and agreed to give her whatever she asked for. Numerous times before that, John was put in prison because of peoples stupid choices. Why would a God allow a man who followed him with his whole heart to die so horribly and go through so much suffering? The answer is simple and goes back to genesis when Adam and Eve CHOSE to eat the forbidden fruit. It is because the queen and king CHOSE to make stupid decisions that, like me, resulted in suffering to those around them. If you think this guys suffering is bad just wait until you hear the story of the apostle Paul…
2nd Corinthians 11:23-27 explains Paul’s problems best:
“… I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number,and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and day adrift at see. I have traveled on may long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers, I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights, I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.”
It’s easy to look at this guys story and think “A life like that would not be a life worth serving God” All of his suffering was caused by peoples stupid choices too but that didn’t stop him from serving God to the fullest. What if I told you that beyond all of that pain, suffering, and anguish because of peoples choices there is a purpose and result that is greater than you could possibly imagine. What if I told you that although following God doesn’t mean life will be easy, it WILL be rewarding. What if I told you that a life with God equals, peace, understanding, and unconditional love. What if I told you that suffering makes a way for God to work miracles in your life. Would you believe me if I told you that God knows what suffering feels like and he took it all on because of his love for us?
You see inside the stories of the suffering John the Baptist and Paul had to endure were many miracles. Because of Johns faithfulness, he got to baptize Jesus. Numerous times he was able to get out of prison and his loyalty to God and willingness to do his will gave him the opportunity to minister to many people though baptism and evangelism. As for the Apostle Paul, he had many miracles as well. Throughout all of the suffering he came out alive. Just like John, he was freed from prison numerous times, and shown mercy by many people who in turn helped him in meeting his needs. His willingness to suffer for the good news gave him the ability to help plant many churches, perform many miracles, baptize people, and lead many people to the good news of Jesus Christ. People and hardships tried to stop them but in God’s love he made a way. Now for the Jesus…
“He was despised and rejected- a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet The Lord laid on him he sins of us all.”
I want you to take that verse in. God sent his son who knew no sin. A person who didn’t deserve to die. He didn’t deserve to suffer. If anyone deserves to have a happy go lucky kind of life it’s Jesus. From the moment Jesus entered this earth he had to deal with hardships from peoples choices. At the age of two they had to move because the King was killing all of the boys his age in hopes that Jesus would die as well! Guys the poor kid was 2! From the moment he was brought on earth Jesus knew what would happen. He would be rejected, beat, treated harshly, nailed to a cross, spit on and much much more. Why? So that we could be forgiven for our sins and be able to join him in heaven.
Through reading that verse I realized God knows my hardships and sees my pain. He understands pain caused by people because he had to go through it too! I realized that every tear I cried, every bit of pain and heartache I felt was also felt by the father. He didn’t want me to suffer BUT he would use my suffering and turn it into something good. He showed me that he is always there. People will hurt me but he will ease the pain and help me get through it. He didn’t want to go through his pain and suffering either but he loved me so much that he did. It is because of this that I realized I cannot get mad at God for the suffering in the world. Instead, I can pray to him and ask for help and understanding. He will find a way to give me peace, understanding, and help through the situation. My God is not dead! He is alive and well with a love and strength that exceeds any pain or suffering a person can try to throw at me.
” I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. FOR I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME.”
As you go through this easter weekend and though your life when you come across situations that seem unbearable and whenever you have to deal with suffering caused by peoples choices remember that you are not alone. There are many people just like you, who know what pain and suffering feels like including God. Lean on the one who loves you and wants to help. His name is Jesus and his plans and purpose for your current suffering are greater than you can imagine. In his time it will be revealed.