God’s Victory is Near

For as long as there has been pain and suffering, we have been struggling to understand why. How can a loving God allow injustice and tragedy to happen?

When Job asked God these questions, God gave no short, simple answer. He did not give Job a stone tablet with a brief explanation, nor has He given us this bulletin article to suddenly answer all of our questions.

God’s answer was a series of over 60 questions that contrasted Job’s smallness with God’s bigness, and Job’s limited knowledge with God’s infinite wisdom.

Perhaps God was telling Job that man can no more understand the problem of suffering than he can understand how to create a universe out of nothing.

It is not a comprehensive answer, but there is something that we must remember: this world lies under the power of the devil.

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:1-2)

“The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Something else that we do know is that the devil’s reign is temporary and will come to an end.

“Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” (John 12:31)

In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

He is not slow to fulfill His promises, but is patiently waiting for more to repent. (2 Peter 3:9) Even so, we long for the day when His victory will be swift.

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)

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God Acknowledges Our Suffering

To be human means to be capable of suffering.

Those who have experienced chronic pain, clinical depression, or serious illnesses of any sort are all too familiar with this fact. In many cases, the sufferer is surrounded by individuals who are not so familiar with suffering and whose best advice seems just about useless if not upsetting.

The scriptures don’t offer magical incantations or curt advice. The Bible does, however, acknowledge the situation. If you’re like me, you appreciate it when your sacrifices or difficulties are at least acknowledged rather than undermined or ignored.

God acknowledges that people suffer bitterly.

Elijah prayed earnestly to God that he might die right then and there. (1st Kings 19:3-5)

David drenched his pillow with tears as he cried at night. (Psalm 6:6-7)

Job spends the entire 26 verses of Job chapter 3 cursing the day he was born. He asks:

“Why did I not perish at birth,
and die as I came from the womb?
Why were there knees to receive me
and breasts that I might be nursed?
For now I would be lying down in peace;
I would be asleep and at rest.”

God could have left these accounts out of His word if He had wanted to ignore the reality of our pain.

God’s word also acknowledges that cheap advice is frustrating and doesn’t work. The book of Job contains almost 30 chapters of Job’s friends providing useless and accusatory suggestions instead of gently supporting him. At the end of the book, Job’s friends are asking him to pray for them because of their foolishness.

Paul, whose suffering included numerous severe beatings, lashings, shipwrecks, imprisonments, and physical ailments (2 Corinthians 11:23-29, Galatians 4:13) did not offer any cute little pieces of advice, but he did give us some hope to hold onto:

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Corinthians 8:18)

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