Do suffering and pain only come from evil actions?

Monday Musings for July 06, 2020

Good morning, Musers,

Who is at fault for the suffering and pain we experience on Earth? Is it ours? Is it God’s? Or is it the fault of the people who perform these evil acts?

This is a question for the ages. Even people who do not believe in God ask this question because the world is demonstrably the kind of place where “bad” things happen to “good” people. As such, it’s natural for a thinking person to muse, if a loving and just God were in charge of the universe, I would expect to see more of a direct relationship between the good works people do and God’s blessings... I mean... the Bible at least hints at this (Leviticus 26:3-10; Ephesians 6:1-3).

But the technical truth is a hard sell to people who don’t understand the gospel: there are no good people! (Romans 3:23). There are only redeemed people and non-redeemed people. But I’m talking about the perceived truth today... and here, God’s skeptics have a point: we can cite case after case where innocent people suffer and evil people flourish... and even a seasoned Christian will find himself complaining to God that this isn’t fair.

This is why it’s important to remember that God plays the long game — and there are many things at play here. For instance, God will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7). What he says in his word will come to pass. Also, God does not measure time like we do (Psalm 90:4). So he is not “slack” in his promises as some accuse him (2 Peter 3:9). Furthermore, the more time there is between the crime and the punishment, the greater the chances that a miscreant will find God… and such were all of you! (1 Corinthians 6:11).

I’m glad that God did not call “game over” before I came to Christ — but I have to be honest: now that “I’ve got mine,” I can be a little impatient with the people who might soon get theirs — but in a bad way — and that’s not where my head should be! The most honorable prayer I can pray is for God to take all the time he needs. But the phrase, “Come soon, Lord Jesus” simply is my closing prayer quite often. So you know where my heart is.

But here’s the thing: praying that Jesus will come back soon and that an optimum number of people will be saved are not mutually exclusive. In fact, Jesus’ return will be a signal that God has redeemed every person who wants to be redeemed.

Revelation 7:9 tells us that countless people will be redeemed! I find this encouraging. Despite living in a “Christian” nation like the USA, Christianity feels like a minority enterprise — and not by a little! You see, nominal Christianity is not true Christianity — and this didn’t surprise Jesus. He said that narrow is the way and few there are that find it (Matthew 7:13-14; 7:21-23).

When I think about the processes necessary to redeem a world full of volitional creatures who know or care little about Jesus Christ, my mind shuts down. But God told us the end of the story... that countless will be redeemed. Such a process will be messy, complex — and too much for my finite mind to parse. Fortunately, it’s God’s process. All I can do is do my piece.

(Click here to read the article referenced above. For comments, or to join the Monday Musings mailing list, contact us at mainsailep@gmail.com. To submit a question about God, the Bible or the Christian culture, click here.)