Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Steve Myers] Have you ever wondered why a loving God would allow good people to suffer? I went out on the street and asked people that very question.
We live in a world of suffering. The coronavirus is the latest event to remind us all that pain and suffering seems to be everywhere. Yet disease and sickness are really only a part of the suffering that plagues our world today. When you consider that, it leaves us with a question, where's God in all of this and how can there be such suffering and distress when you look at what your Bible says that God's supposed to be a loving God? Now why would He allow these terrible difficulties, these miseries to afflict humanity? Why would that happen? I mean if He's all-powerful why doesn't He just put it into it? Why doesn't He just stop it? In fact why am I suffering? I mean have you ever wondered why did God let me go through that injury or that car accident or why did I have to lose my job?
That happened to me one time when I was a young man. I was involved in an accident that happened. I had been clearing my parents' property, burning old wood, and junk, and rubbish, and trash. And boy that first day I had a giant bonfire. I mean it was huge. Of course it died down. The next day I went back to do it all over again. Of course I brought that first load of wood and threw it on those coals and went to get another. As I came back with that second arm full I went to put that on that coal and boom, just exploded. And the next thing I knew I was on fire. And I started running and my legs had all this stuff that was stuck to it. And I couldn't put it out and I started rolling on the ground. And the next thing I knew I was in a hospital burn unit for weeks.
Where's God in that? And I couldn't help but think, "How could He let me suffer like this?" Now we all might have some stories that are kind of like that. They come in a lot of different types, you know sudden accidents like mine or maybe illness, chronic illness. And then there's the emotional suffering that we often will go through and financial disasters, problems in our financial life or how about terrible storms, hurricanes, natural disasters, they leave communities totally wiped out. I mean there's just these miserable happenstances on a global scale. And then governments sometimes fail and refugees are displaced, and there's war, genocide. You see when you consider those things it might cause you to doubt the existence of God. Now I asked people on the street what they thought about that.
If God is supposed to be good, why does He allow good people to go through such big difficulties at times?
> I don't know. It's a good question. I'm not really sure, I don't have an answer for that.
>> And I think that His plan is not something that we're able to understand and that some things we're not going to be able to understand and suffering may be included in those things.
[Steve Myers] Have you ever wondered how a good God could allow good people to suffer?
> I believe that, you know, it's a battle of good and evil going on, you know, what I'm saying, unbeknownst to everybody, you know.
>> I don't think He is, like, causing things to happen to innocent people, but it's beyond what we know and what we can comprehend.
[Steve Myers] Quite interesting. Can we figure it out? I mean is it possible to understand why there is so much suffering in the world? Well we'd like to help you to understand that so we put together a Bible study aid. It's called "Why Does God Allow Suffering?" You need to study these things from yourself from God's perspective and we want to help you do that. So call us at the number on your screen or go to our website beyondtoday.tv. There you can read it right there online. You can download it to your tablet, your smartphone, your computer, and read it for yourself or call us and we'll send you your own free copy. Because there's so much to this subject that we really want you to begin to understand from God's perspective. Because as we consider this topic, think about what we treasure most. I think most people might say freedom, that we've got freedom. In fact here in America we defend freedom, self-determination. That's what we're all about. But you know that's not just an American thing.
If you were to read the United Nations Charter it states that people of the world have a right to freely choose their sovereignty and political status. You wonder well what does God think about that? Well you know God has given people freedom of choice. And in fact it's part of His plan. You can read about it in your Bible. It tells us all the way back in the book of Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy 30:19 says this, "I have set before you life and death, blessing, and cursing. Therefore choose life," is what God says, "that both you and your descendants may live, that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice."
So when we see what God tells us He made mankind with the ability to make choices, to choose His own way. And could you imagine if we didn't have free choice? I mean do I jump out of bed, hit the snooze button? What will it be? Would you like cream or sugar or both? You see without choice there really isn't a reason. There's no reason without choice. And so what we find the reality is, we make thousands of choices every single day. And you probably recognize most of them are pretty boring, pretty mundane than normal everyday choices we make. But yet there are some choices that are so important, that they affect us the rest of our life. So when pain and suffering do come, whose fault is it?
> When people think about why did this happen to me they want to find a source to blame and they want to be angry for why they're suffering. And I do think sometimes there is a purpose.
>> No, it's just an unfortunate situation that is...you know, people that are put in unfortunate situations.
> Things happen. And, you know, it's just the shake of the dice.
> I don't know that there's a purpose, I think it's just part of life the way it is. I mean, life is not fair. It's not equal. You've got highs and lows. And that's just the way it is.
>> Can you blame God for everything? I don't think so.
[Steve Myers] Now, some would disagree with that. Some would say, "No, God created evil and He allows all this suffering so He must be to blame." So people oftentimes will do just that. They'll blame God for the suffering. But part of that is because they just don't understand God. Because when we turn to what God says, when we look to His word, when we understand what God has to say about it we recognize the fact He created us with freedom of choice. We have free moral agency. We have the ability to choose. And when we do that, that allows for good and bad consequences. The outcome could be either/or. And our choices can either lead to good things or sometimes it's just disastrous. And so is it fair to say then that mankind's wrong choices are the cause of most of the suffering in the world?
Have you thought much about why there is so much suffering in the world today?
> Yeah, I guess when I think about suffering, I feel like it's people bringing it upon themselves. I mean as a whole, the world community, I feel like, people don't live right. We bring pain and suffering upon ourselves by polluting, we live with the consequences of our actions.
>> I think our personal decision has caused us to suffer.
> We suffer the consequences of other people's decisions sometimes or the consequences of our own decisions.
>> If, you know, God was good and all He allowed was, you know, good things to happen, I mean, that's just not what's happening. So you know I have a hard time, you know, reconciling the religious parts of it.
[Steve Myers] Well, can we reconcile the suffering? Can we figure it out or do we just blame God? You see when we look to what God says about it, He says, "Don't blame me." In fact, He's from a totally different perspective. In John 3:16. He says this, we're reminded of God's perspective. "God so loved the world..." So God's not trying to cause everyone to suffer. God loves the world. "He gave His only Son," John 3:16 says, "so that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life." So when we really get down to it, I think what we find is that most suffering can be traced back to the source, our own actions, our own choices, our own free will. Because what we find is it's sort of scientific when you really get down to it. Cause and effect that certain actions are going to result in certain consequences. In fact the Bible puts it this way in Galatians 6:7, it says, "Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." Now that's a farming principle, right? If you're a gardener you get it. You understand that. You plant certain things, that's what you're going to harvest. You reap, you benefit from the things that you plant or you sow. So it's one of those things that we can't blame God. It's not His fault. What did you plant? What did you sow?
In order to understand a little bit more deeply we hope that you'll order our booklet, "Why does God allow suffering?" Call us at the number on your screen or go to our website, beyondtoday.tv. It will help you understand that sowing and reaping principle, how so oftentimes we are the cause of our own suffering and our own problems. And when we recognize that we can understand more thoroughly what God has to say. What's His perspective? Well this Bible study aid will help you discover that for yourself. It gets you into the Word of God, so you can understand a little bit more thoroughly, what is His perspective? Because really, when you get down to it most of the suffering, so much of the suffering that's in our world today is a result of our choices.
Why don't you think God just doesn't put a stop to the violence and tragedy right now?
> It's because of our free will. We have free will. He gets free will. It's our choice.
>> Because He gave us free will to do what we want to do. It's not His decision what we're doing, it's our decision. We haven't learned.
> We are of our own free will.
>> You're the controller of your own destiny. So if you're suffering, do something about it. Don't just expect somebody else to help you.
> I think the decisions that we make in life are... I think we're ultimately responsible for decisions.
>> Well God gives us a choice. We all have a choice to do right or wrong, and you can choose to do right, you could choose to do wrong. He's not going to make us robots. He loves us. So, you know He's not going to make us serve Him.
[Steve Myers] You see, she's right. God could have made us robots, He could have just forced us to do what He wanted to. But instead He chose to create us with the capability of making a choice. And He wants us to make right choices. He wants us to do the things that are good and be like Him. And He talks about that over and over again in His Word in Scripture.
And so we find in the Ephesians 2:10, it's a reminder for us. He says, we are His workmanship. So we are in His hands. And it goes on to say, "Created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared," it says beforehand that we should walk in them. So it tells us we've got a God that's on our side. We're His handiwork. He wants good for us. He wants to create in us His holy character. And it's a fact. God wants the best. He wants the best for you. Now as we consider suffering, I think it is true. Some suffering isn't a result of choice. But is it possible that suffering could be a part of God's overall purpose? In fact the Bible does tell us that. 1 Peter 1:6 is an example of that. It says, "In this, you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you've been grieved by various trials." That's troubles, difficulties, challenges. But He goes on and says, "That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it's tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
And so what's He saying here? What's the point? Well He's saying good people are going to have challenges too. Good people are going to be tested. Godly people will have trials, and challenges, and difficulties. And of course then we've got to ask, "Well, why? Why does God allow good people to suffer?" Because you might think well, what's the use of trying to be good if all I have to look forward to is suffering?
Well God has a purpose. He has a purpose in allowing even good people to suffer. And a little bit later on in that first letter to Peter 2:21, it says, "For to this, you were called because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” So you see, God's telling us as we go through these difficulties, we go through the hardships, it's actually possible to become more like God. It's possible to follow in His steps. It's possible to be more like Him. And of course when we do that we're demonstrating a commitment. We're demonstrating that we're going to follow Him. We're going to live and try to follow His way of life. Because you know suffering is not fun. Nobody likes suffering. The fact is, pain changes people. Pain changes people. And when you go through pains in this life it can push us and help us to get back on a better path, Godly path because we have this tendency to want to do it ourselves. And yet we need to look to God and get rid of that self-reliance and turn to Him. And the best part is that God wants to help us through those times. He wants to get us through that process. And I'll bet there's been times in your life that He's helped you get through those things and you might not have even recognized it. You might not have saw His hand working in your life. Now it might be hard and probably will be difficult, but it's possible to find joy, even in the pain.
> And again, like why did that happen? Why is the suffering going on? And I think the only answer or the only place you can actually look for an answer would actually be to ask God, and actually to reflect, and think about it for yourself. There's a lot of suffering in the Bible that He teaches us, and through His sufferings, we do become like better people and we learn from these.
>> I think we can learn from the things that we do and, you know, the consequences of those things.
> The fact that He loves us and He wants us to learn.
>> I think sometimes God gives us difficulties and trials to strengthen us, and to teach us lessons, and help us make better decisions the next time around.
[Steve Myers] There's some interesting comments. Are they reflective of what God's word says? What God wants for us? I think it's undoubtable that God wants us to learn. He wants us to understand and be more like Him, and grow even in those difficulties and challenges. So let's step back for a moment and look at what God has to say and find several principles that are Godly principles, Biblical principles when it comes to suffering.
Think about the first purpose. Is there a purpose for suffering? Well, when we look at God's word it reminds us suffering builds character or at least it can. It doesn't always do that. But the possibility is there. It can actually bring out our best. Sometimes we've seen that in terrible natural disasters where people just come together and they bring their best to help. Well that's a Biblical principle. And in the book of Romans 5:3, it reminds us of this. From the New Living Translation, it says, "We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials." Well, that sounds like a paradox. Really? Can we do that? Well, it's because of the results. It says, "We know they're good for us. They help us to learn, to endure, and endurance can develop strength of character in us." And so there can be a process that can be a spiritual process that we can grow and develop the character of God. And as strange as it may seem God's telling us, "It can be good for you. It can be good for you." Because in life we can expect it, there's going to be...no one's going to escape without some difficulties of challenges, and trials, and suffering in their life. And so when we see God's hand and change our perspective and turn to Him, it could certainly bring meaning to that difficulty because sometimes we even suffer for doing what's right, what's good.
For the sake of following God when we suffer, God can use that and build us up because when you think about it, this life isn't only for building character. It's also for the testing of that character. Life's also for the testing of character. And ultimately trials and suffering can be kind of a declaration that ultimately will be rewarded when Jesus Christ returns to this earth. So that's an important purpose, but that's not all.
A second purpose for suffering is the fact that suffering silences the critics. And what do I mean by that? Well there are those out there who ridicule God. They would say, "You're crazy for following God. Why would you do that when there's all this difficulty, and challenges, and struggle, and suffering?" Or they might criticize and say, "Wel, you only love God because you're blessed. You have good things. You've got a nice car and a nice house, and you're only in it for what you can get out of it." But you see when we go through suffering it doesn't have to be that way because we all have to ask ourselves, are Christians in it just for what they can get out of it? Do I follow God just to get the blessings? That's a problem. Because there's so much more to the story than just that.
When we suffer we can silence the critics especially if we follow the word of God's. 1 Peter 2:15 is a good reminder of that. It says, "This is the will of God. Here's what God wants. By doing good, you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men." So if you want to shoosh the enemies, you want to silence those enemies, quiet them down? Show that you trust God even when it's tough, even when it's difficult, even though all this evidence around me is pointing to the fact that, wow, it's tough, and it's difficult, and why should I believe in God? I'm going to follow Him.
And even though all the evidence suggests otherwise, I'm not in this just for what I could get out of it. Because one of the things we demonstrate especially for those that are unbelievers, that we love God more than we love blessings. We love God more than we love blessings. And we have a personal relationship with God because ultimately that's what's going to count. And so we love God and by faith we stand strong for His way, even when circumstances are difficult, even though there's suffering. And of course, when we look to the Word of God we have the ultimate example. The perfect example,when it comes to that is Christ Himself. Christ set that perfect example, one who did no wrong, one who never sinned, one who never caused suffering in that way. He set that perfect example and He suffered for us. He gave His life for us.
And that brings us to a wonderful third purpose. When we suffer it also helps us to appreciate. Suffering can help us to appreciate. When you've had it rough, when you go through tough times, don't you appreciate when it turns around? Don't you appreciate when it's done? Don't you really value things when finally I've turned the corner and I'm not going through that challenge? That trial is over? And so I can appreciate good health if I've been sick. Boy I appreciate good health that much more or good friends. Or if we had financial difficulties, when that gets turned around, wow what a relief that it's not just struggling every moment of the way. So when there's good times, and when I have a loving family, it certainly helps us to appreciate the good things, the good things. In fact when we consider what God has to say, He has rewards in mind, especially for those who suffer for doing good. Those that suffer because they obey God, those that suffer because they stand strong in their faith, when they stand without fear of any persecution or difficulties or ridicule that they might face.
When we stand strong and people make fun of us because we follow this word and we do what it says, we obey God, God says there's a reward for that. Romans 8:16 is a great reminder of that very fact. Romans 8:16, it says, "We are children of God, and if children, these were part of the family were heirs." In fact, the Scripture says heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. But then it adds an interesting part to that. It also says, "If we suffer with Him, that we might also be glorified together." And so suffering helps us to appreciate. We appreciate our Savior. We appreciate He paid the price of sin because sin plagues us all. And we suffer because of sin. And He helps us overcome because there's no doubt sin brings suffering. And Christ knows firsthand what it's like to resist sin and resist temptation. And He wants to help us to overcome and combat sin, and boldly come before Him for strength when we need it.
So we rely on Him, and we treasure Him, and we count on Him. And so when you need to understand more about it, be sure and get our Bible study aid, "Why Does God Allow Suffering?" Call us at the number on your screen, go to beyondtoday.tv, get the full story. Because there is so much to the story of life, of why God allows suffering. Because it brings us all the way around. God doesn't like it any more than we do. He doesn't like pain. He says suffering's only temporary and there's coming a time, suffering's going to end. In the Kingdom of God, He's going to erase it forever. Revelation 21:4 says that very thing, "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Everyone, no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, no more pain." That's all going away. Because God's got a plan and He gives us hope. So let's look to God the Father. Let's look to Jesus Christ who suffered and left us an example. Exercise your free will, make the choice, and remember in God's Kingdom, there will be no more pain. So let's pray for that day when suffering will end.
[Narrator] We've prepared a special study aid, "Why Does God Allow Suffering?" To help you learn what the Bible says about this challenging topic, "Why Does God Allow Suffering?" We'll take you through a Biblical study to help you understand why our world suffers from evil and unspeakable tragedy. Call us now for your free copy at 1-888-886-8632 or go online at beyondtoday.tv. And when you do we'll also send you a free subscription to "Beyond Today" magazine. This special publication will help you make sense of often chaotic and confusing events in our world today. Besides helping you prepare for the challenging future that lies ahead, "Beyond Today" magazine will also provide you with excellent insight into the many valuable and practical teachings of the Bible. And once again, to order your free copy of "Why Does God Allow Suffering?" and your free subscription to "Beyond Today" magazine, call 1-888-886-8632 or go online at beyondtoday.tv.