Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:19)
News headlines are pretty depressing these days. How often do we look at the pain and evil in the world and beg God to do something? “God! How can you tolerate such suffering? Why do you let evil run rampant? Why aren’t you answering our prayers?” War, corruption, famine, hate, disease, murder, poverty … surely the world could be better than this? Surely God could do more than this?
But God can’t eliminate pain without eliminating evil. And God can’t eliminate evil without eliminating us. For God to move against the destruction of sin, He must move against the destructing sinners. He must move against us.
Do we really want God’s unvarnished response to our sin in our world? There have been graphic moments where God, in all His fury, has dealt with the evil our sin creates. There was the flood and Sodom and Gommorah. Total destruction. He hates sin and its effects more than we do. So why does He seem unmoved?
God’s seeming lack of response to evil isn’t because He doesn’t care or is unable to act. It is an act of love. Deep, passionate love for His creation. A grieving, wounded love. Instead of wiping out sin whenever it appears, as in the days Noah, God allows it to stay. He allows us to stay, and He suffers through it with us, so that there is time. Time for as many as possible to find Him, choose Him.
Instead of sending another firestorm to scorch the earth and remove all trace of sin (and the humans creating it), God sent His Son. We wage destruction, and God stays His hand.
And He offers a way out. Jesus stands, holding open the door to eternal communion with God, calling as many as possible to enter while the fires of our own making lick ever closer. He could put out those fires for us, but He would have to destroy humanity to do so. So in mercy He stands still, leaving the door open another day.
He is calling through His tears. Tears that He sheds with us and for us. “How can you possibly tolerate such suffering?” God grieves for us, deeper than we know, but He waits, waits in the possibility that another may step into true life. Because we were made for a world better than this. God created it so, and God waits … even if, for a time, He must endure the pain and evil in the world to do so.
Dear God, I don’t fully understand why suffering happens, but I trust that You are in control. Give me peace and wisdom in the midst of difficulties in life.