God’s goodness helps us understand that one day suffering and evil will be no more.
21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.”
When I look at the world, I see suffering. It’s plain and simple to me, there is suffering all around us. It’s anything from extreme poverty in third world countries to horrific abuse within families. Sometimes it’s even wars that displace masses of people or a natural disaster affecting millions. There is suffering everywhere we look.
Every question, every hesitation I have about Christianity ultimately comes down to this one. Why does this suffering exist? How could a good God allow this? It is the reason contempt towards God sometimes grows in my heart. When I think too much about it, I grow distanced from Him.
Instead of a loving creator who has given us a saviour from our suffering, God turns into a dictator. Someone who orchestrates cruelty rather than mourns it. Yet, it is the question that I yearn to understand.
This makes the practical implications of living in this world difficult. I can’t live for a god who is cruel. At least, this is the lie that I believe. Because ultimately, God isn’t cruel, and He does mourn with us.
So much so that in verse 5 of Revelation 21 he demonstrates to us how he will make everything new. There will be a time when there will be no suffering as we will dwell with him. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death.
In light of this, I don’t live my life trying to understand why God allows suffering. I don’t view him as cruel or an orchestrator of evil. I don’t turn from Him, afraid of what He might do. I live my life with the need to know the goodness of His action.
If He has promised a solution to take the burden of suffering and evil and to deal with it, I need to know His character better in order to understand His actions. I need to understand why God loves us so much and why He would take on the burden of suffering and evil.
Changing the way I frame this question changes the way I approach this issue. Instead of using the question as an excuse to turn from God and to run from Him, it draws me closer. It means I don’t have to live in the world seeing evil and being angry that I can’t understand it. You and I can live knowing that one day, this evil will be gone, and God will be with us.
Head: Think of situations in your life when you’ve seen suffering/evil or felt it yourself.
Heart: How did you react when you think about this? Does it make you want to turn to God or from Him?
Hands: What are some practical ways in your life that you can focus on Jesus rather than the burden of evil and suffering?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for taking the burden of suffering and evil from us. Thank you for the promise that you will one day take the pain it brings away. Help us to focus on you and remember your goodness in world so full of suffering and evil.
A song to listen to: Your Love Remains
Jackie McTaggart- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina