There are many examples of suffering and pain:
- Moral evil relates to choices that people make that end up hurting others. This includes things such as violence, abuse and war – all which cause much pain – and the slaughter of innocent people, such as occurred in the Holocaust. At the office, it could be that you've been working hard but your friend gets a promotion and you get laid off. In the family, it could be a divorce, abuse, conflict or a painful argument.
- Natural evil are catastrophes and includes things such as injury and suffering caused by disease, accidents, earthquakes, fires and floods. Also, famine, tornadoes, tidal waves, natural disasters or freaks of nature (referred to as “acts of God” in most insurance policies). Isn't it interesting how we tend to ascribe the good things in life to ourselves (we deserve it or we’ve worked hard or we’re smart) but when bad things happen we tend to blame God.
In every area of life, there is unfairness.
Think of what goes on in an obstetrician doctor’s office: there are women who don't want to be pregnant but are, women desperately wanting children but struggling with fertility problems, and women who miscarry (life is gone and hope is dashed). Ask the doctor and they’ll tell you, “It’s not fair!”
Where is God?
- Where is God when children die of hunger in a world of abundance?
- Where is God when a young mother suffers a slow, very painful death from cancer.
- Where is God when an earthquake kills thousands of people?
- Where is God when millions of people are killed by a dictator?
Life is not fair. Each person has their own story – things that have happened to us, that have caused pain and hurt. It doesn’t seem fair.
The Bible also contains many examples of innocent suffering: Abel was killed by his brother Cain, Joseph sold as a slave by his brothers, innocent babies were killed and Moses was rescued, Job who was a good man who lost almost everything in a graphic example of innocent suffering, and Jesus who lived a perfect life loving and serving people but ended up being crucified as a common criminal – between two authentic criminals. It was horrible and humiliating, from the time they drove the nails through his hands until he breathed his last breath seven agonizing hours later. People jeered him, “He saved others but he can’t save himself (Mt.27:42)!” They jabbed him. A soldier plunged a sword into his side. He was a good man. He didn’t deserve this. Write this on his cross in big bold letters: LIFE ISN’T FAIR!
Yes, Life is not Fair …. This is a fact of life. But don’t confuse life with God.
God is good!
Can this really be true? If life is not fair, then how can God be good? If God is “all-powerful” and “loving”, why do such terrible things still happen? Why doesn’t he do something about this?
This is what helped Job through his terrible time of suffering. He believed in the goodness of God and that even the negative things would work out for ultimate good. He believed, from his experience with God, that God is personal, approachable and for him.
Job grappled intensely with this belief about God’s goodness and, in the face of such terrible disaster, found it hard to explain the contradiction between his belief and his life experience. At times, Job questioned the goodness of God because he felt God had become his enemy who seemed to be very angry with him (Job 19:6-7). Yet beneath it all, there was a conviction that God’s anger would pass and good would be done to him. This gave him the hope to persevere and to continue to call out to God to act in mercy on his behalf.
Job saw God as the creator who looks after and cares for his creation. Job believed that God will help him overcome life’s adversities. Out of the depths of despair, Job often rose in faith to declare with confidence his belief in God’s goodness. He believed that his present experience with God’s anger was transitory and that in the end he would encounter God’s justice, goodness and mercy. This was the foundation of his ongoing hope and trust in God.
Although Job experienced extreme mood swings and intense negative emotions which at times stretched him to the limit, his fundamental beliefs about the nature and character of God helped him to persevere. The apostle James commends Job for patient endurance during his times of intense pain and suffering.
James 5:11. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. NIV
In times of tragedy and suffering, we too, can depend on the goodness of God (Exodus 33:19. Psalm 33:5. Romans 2:4). When we love him, we can be assured that he will work all things together for our ultimate good, even the negative experiences of life (Romans 8:28).
Don’t believe that when life is unfair, God is bad.