Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have made the land a desolate waste because of all the detestable things they have done. (Ezekiel 33:29)
In today’s passage, God forewarns the destruction that will come upon Judah because of their abomination. He is giving them suffering so that they will know that He is the Lord, He is Yahweh. May we live our lives knowing that He is the Lord. May the experience in our lives help us to come to know Him.
If God is all good and all-powerful, why is there evil? Why does he allow these evil to exist in this world? If God is all good, he would not want evil to exist. If He is only good and not powerful, he would want to get rid of it but is not able to. The argument is that if evil still exists in this world, it would mean either God is not powerful or He does not exist. Our God who is infinite could not have a good reason to take away evil. How can we who are finite and limited be sure that God does not have a good reason to allow evil just because we could not think of one?
The people of God who did what God wants them to do and yet they died a terrible death. Is that a good example for us to live a life of faith? Is that not a thing that we want to run away from? It seems like God forewarns and bring suffering upon his people. In order to understand the reason, we need to spend a little time looking at different views.
Different views on suffering and pain
1) The Eastern view
Suffering brings clarity to life. It shakes us out of short-sightedness. Suffering has such a hidden blessing. The eastern view says suffering humbles you, strengthens you and makes you a better person. Some religion accepts suffering without questioning it, I cannot run away from it but I just need to accept it and live with it.
2) The Western view
The Western people are far more traumatized by suffering and pain. The Western world is also known as the secular world. This term in church refers to the evil world but this secular world can believe in God but it has a thin view of God. They say there may be God or not but you can never tell. Therefore putting your money, your life, into something you cannot see is risky. That is the secular world. This influence focus on current happiness. Suffering and pain are pure evil because that takes away the enjoyment.
The meaning of life differs according to cultures. In all of these cultures, happiness is in the afterlife. Suffering is painful but it can help you to achieve your goal faster. In Western culture, suffering and pain are only evil and useful for nothing, therefore we must do anything we can to avoid it. It cannot help you to achieve your goal, it wastes your time, you should be bitter about it because it can destroy your life and you. We might say we agree with the Eastern view but our sentiments when we went through suffering is of the Western’s.
In Christianity, our God came down to his people and that is amazing and unheard of. He goes through pain and he probably caught flu and cold. He knows our weaknesses, he knows pain, he knows what it feels like to be nailed on the Cross, he went through all that so that he may die. He took death upon himself. So even when we go through suffering, that suffering is not a punishment for our sins, if we say that, His suffering is nullified, we believe in Jesus and we are forgiven. Our sickness, our pain comes not as punishment, or curse but because we are born into a fallen world. Until that redemption, a new person born in Christ, until then we will die, we will be sick, I pray that these suffering and pain will not be aimless. When we go through hardship, please remember that Jesus is with you, he knows your weakness, your pain, you may say God is not with me, but please believe he is with you.
Your future is about continuing the love relationship with God and people. You will remember your love on this earth, your relationship with people, there will be no hatred, that philia love will become agape love. You are not a ghost floating around, not a particle, you will continue to be you.
Other religions think you will be born again, as another thing or part of nature but only in the ghostly form but Christianity teaches that one day when Jesus comes back, those alive will be transfigured, we will be in the perfect human form, the form that God has created us to be. We will all be resurrected, those who died, will rise up and be transfigured into a form that will be able to love eternally.
The suffering that comes our way. Is suffering just or unjust? The Bible tells us about the history of redemption, there was no suffering in the beginning but it comes as a result of us turning away from God. In other words, we are experiencing suffering and pain as a result of being away from God. There are many purposes for this suffering. Through that, we need to realize that we need to get back to the hiding place, under his wings. There is so much suffering for good people. It seems like God gives that suffering, at times he knows about it but he allows us to go through it.
The world does not agree with you, the society is forming a place where true believers find it hard to follow the Word. It is through these suffering, though the building of the ark that Noah come to know that God is the Lord. Job’s faith matured and he repented though his suffering, David was made into a king that would unify the kingdom through the suffering that God made him go through. Joseph was made a saviour through his suffering.
For the captives in Babylon, it is God’s way for them to repent, to become a great nation to reach out and save more people.
Some people say I cannot stay in faith anymore because it is too much. Interestingly, it is also the same reason that some people come to grow closer to God.
Last week I shared about being happy, it is our choice. It is similar to suffering. Sometimes we cannot avoid it, it is what I make out of it. It will either make you or break you. It will either make my faith grow or mature. Rather than focusing on the suffering, let us focus on our relationship with God.