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News for Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sunday School Lesson — Bible Studies for Life
Feb. 23: If God Is Good, Why Is There Suffering?
By Josh Moore


Focal Passage: Job 30:26-31; 42:1-6

The problem of evil has caused many to doubt the existence of God. The Bible declares our Creator to be all-powerful and benevolent, yet evil exists. This apparent contradiction leads many to argue that God is either evil Himself or somehow not able to prevent such suffering from taking place. In addition, many point to the overwhelming scope of evil in our world and question why a good God would allow such extreme atrocities in humanity. How should Christians respond to questions such as these? The book of Job directly confronts this problem, highlighting the human frustration with evil. Yet, Job concludes with God’s powerful answer, eliciting from us a response of awe and faith.

Suffering is universal (Job 30:26-31). The Bible describes Job as “blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil” (Job 1:1). Yet throughout the book we read of the sufferings heaped upon him. Jesus Christ Himself said that God “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).

Job is a great biblical example that no human is immune from sorrow and grief. Yet we must never blame God for this evil in our lives. The cause of evil in this world stems from the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Because of the Fall, the creation has “been subjected to futility” (Romans 8:20). Instances of suffering in our lives are reminders that we live in a fallen world. The great extent to which this evil pervades our society and natural world demonstrates to us the immense tragedy of our fallenness throughout human history. Death comes because we rebelled against God, causing sickness, disease, and natural calamity to invade our lives. The Bible teaches that this was not God’s intention for His handiwork (Genesis 1:31), and that the created order groans with anticipation and hope that one day it will “be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Each time we encounter suffering, we as followers of Christ should grieve the state of the fallen world, recognizing the spiritual warfare being waged against the children of God.      

God is sovereign (Job 42:1-3).Yet God is in control. Evil has not taken our Lord by surprise. God answers Job’s frustrations out of the whirlwind of His might, placing us in right perspective to the sovereign Lord of the universe. Job responds to the sovereignty of God in speechless awe. Although we often strain to find answers in the midst of life’s tragedies, the best response is to rest in the providence of God. God takes the immense evil in the world throughout history and works all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). The cross is the most explicit picture of this. Here God used the schemes of evil and godless men to nail His only Son to a pagan cross of execution so that He might forgive us of our sins (Acts 2:22-24).

We should draw close (Job 42:4-6). Not only does Job react with awe in the presence of God’s sovereignty, but he also confesses to the Lord his repentance, drawing near to Him in faith. The Lord draws “near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Although suffering stretches our view of God’s providence, it is His watchcare over our lives that serves as our ballast to endure the storms of life.

Jesus Christ our Lord can sympathize with our sufferings, having endured the cross, so that we may draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, to receive mercy and find grace in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

— Moore is the director of church relations at Union University in Jackson. He also serves as pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church, Milam.

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