A “Perspective” on Why God Allows Suffering

Sermon Titled ” Jesus – No Other Name” (Ephesians 1:20-23) – Sunday 10th November, 2013

  • Ephesians 1:18-23 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

This passage of scripture may seem slightly incredulous to unbelievers, but if God’s word is true, then Isaiah 55:11 says that His word does not return empty – it accomplishes what He desires and achieves the purpose for which it is sent. 

We are told, in the verses above, that there is great power for those who believe in the name of Jesus, but how is that power rendered in our lives? And how can it carry us through times of testing, or equip us to help others through times of testing?

This past week has been fairly intense and tragic, filled with much grieving from those who directly experienced the catastrophic effects of Typhoon Haiyan, as well as those mourning on Veterans Day for lost loved ones. In addition to these terribly sad events, I’ve also personally observed the challenges of various friends and acquaintances – the death of a much loved husband and father, surgery for two friends, the pending threat of a miscarriage for a young woman expecting her first baby, job and career-related concerns for some, and even closer to home, regular bouts of anxiety experienced by my youngest.

Tragic events happen all the time, every day in every part of the world, and some too tragic to comprehend. It’s difficult to accept the unfairness of it all, and I’m sure many must question why God allows terrible things to happen to good people. Why, for example, can’t we use His power, which is incomparably greater than any other, to protect ourselves?

In some situations I’m sure that we absolutely can. I’m sure there are times for example, that we will be able to call upon the power of His name to bring healing or specific answers to prayer, and for reasons known only to Him, He will grant us our requests. But God is sovereign, and when He chooses to stand back and allow us to fall into harm’s way, we have to somehow believe that His power is still present and active in our lives.

One way we can endeavor to find hope in His power, is to recognize that God may be reaching out to us during our lowest moments. It’s often during life crises that we realize how short and transient life is, and it’s possible that crises are experienced so that those who have not yet received Jesus as their Lord and Savior might be more inclined to do so.

Pastor Reimer talked about the power of God enabling believers to see things differently, as if through a new set of eyes. Unbelievers, in the midst of a crisis, might also have the ability to see things differently. How often, for example, do you hear people who have experienced some type of personal tragedy later making comments about “living life to the fullest”, or “spending more quality time with loved ones”, or “not taking for granted the daily provision of food, clothing, and shelter.” These people have been enlightened by the tragedies they experienced, and no longer view life as they did before.

God hopes however, that their eyes would be opened even further – to the point that they would begin to question what lies beyond life in this world. Some may resent Him and lay blame on Him for allowing tragedy to enter their lives, but death is inevitable for everyone; it just comes sooner for some than others. Given then, how fragile our lives are, wouldn’t it be better to divert any energy spent on being bitter and angry, onto an acceptance of death and then, onto the possibility of life after death?

In addition to the idea that God uses tragic circumstances to draw us nearer to Him, there is also the idea that He wishes for us to take action when people around us are hurting or in need. It’s obvious by now that God is not always going to intervene when a disaster or crisis is imminent, but His word clearly tells us that He empathizes with us when we are hurting. He is able to legitimately empathize because He has been there too; He has tasted the pain of suffering and He knows exactly what it is to feel both physical and emotional pain.

Yet, even before Christ suffered, and knowing what He was eventually going to have to endure, He put aside His own concerns and worries and turned instead to those who were crying out for help. He spent His days on earth serving and ministering to those who needed caring for, regardless of whether those needs arose from illness, poverty, loneliness, rejection, or grief. Phillipians 2:5-8 tells us that Christ took on the nature of a servant and humbled Himself through His obedience, and we too, are encouraged to do the same.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, Koza Baptist Church has provided several options to help you put into action what Christ commands of us. Pastor Reimer admonishes us to resist the urge to settle for mere church attendance, and embrace the concept of being the church. Don’t let the words of God, says Pastor Reimer, be “head knowledge” that is never put to use. Rather, start now by committing to serve and help in one (or more), of the following ways:

  1. Thanksgiving Meal for Marines and Sailors, at Camp Schwab, Hansen and Futenma USOs. Here is the link for further information and sign-ups.
  2. International Missions Offering – Weekend of Nov 30 and Dec 1st. 100% of all money collected over this weekend will be given to International Missions efforts. Please consider giving.
  3. Christmas Toy Drive – for local Japanese single mothers and handicapped children ($10 to $20 value). Donations will be received at Koza Baptist Church from Nov 9th to Dec 1st. Please do not purchase: action figures, English-dependent toys, Legos, toy weapons, or board games. Point of contact is Kevin and Kim Reid at kreids51976@gmail.com. Please also ask the Reids about the Koza Christmas Festival and the “Bags of Love” that they hope to fill and give out to the local children who will be attending the event.
  4. And perhaps the most pressing need at this time is financial donations for victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Here are two recommended ways to give to the Philippines Disaster Reliefhttp://www.samaritanspurse.org/donation-items/philippines-emergency-relief/, and http://gentlehandsinc.org/?p=1904

As Pastor Reimer said in his sermon last weekend – “Go Be Do!”

Does-not-hearers-only

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