A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Biblical answers for this age old question.
This has been the topic of several popular books over the years. One author’s conclusion was that either God cares for us but can’t help or else He can help us but doesn’t care. Isn’t that encouraging?
But this is the first and most frequently asked question when people are experiencing serious trouble, whether they’re believers or not. The answers seem to have eluded mankind since the incident between Cain and Able. I say answers because there appear to be at least three. The first and by far the most common is found by looking in a mirror. The second has to do with the consequences of sin in the world. And the third concerns our own sin nature. Let’s take them in order.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
First, when I say look in the mirror, I mean that most of us do more in a day to diminish our physical and mental wellbeing than to enhance it. Just look at our eating and exercise habits, the stress we create and endure in the work place, the way we enslave ourselves to materialism, the enormous load of debt and responsibility we carry, and the way we suffer and cause suffering in our relationships.
A basic rule of architecture is that the weakness of any structure will present itself under stress. The lifestyle we choose can be a source of enormous stress, irrespective of how good we are, or of the good things we do. And for some the very effort required to do and be good is itself a source of stress. Psychologists know that stress reduces our attention span, distracts us, angers us and makes us more prone to accidents and illness. Any weakness in our physical and/or mental structure will eventually present itself under stress.
Ready for Seconds?
And that brings me to number two. Where did these weaknesses in our physical and mental structure come from? The Book of Genesis tells us that Adam and Eve were created by a direct act of God and in His image. He placed them in the Garden of Eden and gave them only one rule. When they broke that rule, sin entered into the world, and Satan became the spiritual power behind events on earth (1 John 5:19).
It is Satan who brought all the pain and suffering into our world. And it’s the ongoing presence of sin that makes this possible. The bible calls Satan the god of this age (2 Cor 4:4) and the prince of this world (John 12:31, 14:30. 16:11), and asserts that the whole world is under his control. We don’t inhabit the world as God created it, but the one contaminated by Satan’s rebellion and Adam’s sin. Because we live here, and are descendants of Adam and Eve we suffer the consequences of their sin, one of which is our own propensity for sin. (According to Genesis 5:3 we are made in Adam’s image.)
Truth or Consequences?
These sin consequences are so much a part of our reality that we hardly question them. But consider this. Do you really believe a perfect God deliberately created an imperfect image of Himself; an image with the genetic disposition for disease and other physical and mental malfunctions? That a Creator who is defined as the personification of love designed us to hate those who are different? Or caused those around us to withhold the love we so desperately need so we would conclude that we’re unlovable and end our own lives? Would an eternal God create temporal children who get old and sick, fall apart, die and go to hell while He lives on? Cause parents to beat, abuse and abandon and even murder their own children; offspring of the very process of procreation He had delegated to them in the first place? Have you ever had to watch your child die? God has watched 6 BILLION of His die.
He’s God and You’re Not
You say, “But He’s God. He can do anything He wants. He can stop this.” No He can’t, and that’s what makes Him God. He’s not just some more powerful version of us. He can’t be arbitrary or capricious like we are. He can’t relieve us of the consequences of sin in the world. He can love you enough to purchase a pardon for your sins (it took His life) but He can’t make you love Him enough to accept it. He has to be just, He has to be fair, and He has to play by the rules. These rules require Him to allow events that are not consistent with either His pleasure or His desire. When His rules are broken (we call that sin) He has to permit consequences.
Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth
Satan introduced sickness, pain, suffering and death into the creation as a consequence of that first sin. And unlike God, Satan doesn’t have to be fair so these things affect even the innocent. Because it’s no longer “politically correct” to even acknowledge Satan’s existence, the only one left to blame is God. So with a considerable assist from liberal theology, God gets all the blame, Satan gets off Scot Free, and lost people everywhere cry “Why me?” without ever getting an answer.
Last time I said that this is the first and most frequently asked question when people experience serious trouble, whether they’re believers or not. There appear to be at least three answers to this age-old question. The first and by far the most common is found by looking in a mirror. The second has to do with the consequences of sin in the world (we covered these last time) And the third concerns our own sin nature. I’ll share a story to tie the first two together and then use a brief summary of the Book of Job for answer number three.