Last weekend my wife kindly gave me her cold (she still has its remnants). I was struggling enough with my disability and its related discomforts. I didn’t need running eyes and nose, sore throat, etc. Consequently, I wasn’t up to writing a post for the whole week.
It got me thinking again about all the suffering in the world (of which mine is minimal). Some of it, of course, is just part of what we call the “natural” aging process. The body wears out. Parts break down. What once was young and vibrant becomes old creaky-stiff. No one is immune–except the ones who suddenly die young.
Other suffering comes from disease or violence or disability or accident that strikes the young. Organizations that help our “wounded warriors” are on TV every day asking for financial contributions. Last night I heard of a grandfather who murdered his six grandchildren, then shot himself. Ebola is killing thousands in Africa and threatens to spread. The tragic list goes on and on.
Coupled with physical suffering is emotional pain–anxiety, fear, loneliness, hopelessness, sorrow, grief, anger. And along with much of it comes the financial burden of a mountain of medical bills.
As I was thinking about that this week, the thought hit me: this is how horrible sin against God is!
Death, and all the suffering that leads to it, is in the world because sin is in the world.
Often, in view of such human suffering, the objection is raised: “If God is loving and powerful, how can he allow this? He must not be loving or not be powerful. Probably he’s not there at all! The objection, while understandable, reveals our ignorance of both the sinfulness of sin and the saving grace of God.
When Adam and Eve sinned, the LORD pronounced this curse on Adam . . .
“By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).
The LORD’s holiness demanded judgment against man’s rebellion. And along with the curse of returning to the dust came the wasting away of old age and all the other physical (and attendant emotional) suffering we endure. Sin isn’t just a mistake or a boo-boo or even a transgression; it’s a personal affront to the holiness of God that offends and belittles his great name. Every time we suffer or hear about all the suffering in the world we are witnessing the consequences of sin.
But God, in his merciful love and saving power, has not left us locked up under judgment without hope. “For God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus–crucified, raised, ascended and coming again–is God’s merciful love and saving power to rescue us from the guilt and curse of our sin.
And soon the day will come when we will hear 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. 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.’ And he who [is] seated on the throne [will say], ‘Behold, I am making all things new'” (Revelation 21:3-5a).
The God against whom we have all sinned and who justly cursed us in this suffering world has mercifully, powerfully and lovingly provided rescue. His name is Jesus. The One we must trust. The One in whom lies our only hope. The One who is coming again. And when we see him on that day–and throughout all eternity that follows–we will witness the amazing-ness of his grace.