One of the most challenging things for us to reconcile with ourselves and with an unbelieving world is the question: “If God is a good God why is there so much suffering in the world?” or better still, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
I know all of the “Sunday School” answers to these questions:
- Sin and its curse
- Free will
- Authority over the earth given by God to man
The greatest challenge comes to us when the suffering or bad things affect our lives or the lives of those whom we care for. It is at these moments where our faith faces the choice to turn our face towards heaven and demand an answer or reason or to turn our face towards heaven and speak the Word of the Lord.
There is great evil in this world. There is intense suffering in this world. There is great injustice in this world. There are terrible diseases and sicknesses in this world. There is poverty, lack and ignorance in this world. There is overwhelming sin in this world. It is for these reasons that Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself. It is for these reasons that man needs redemption and regeneration. It is for these reasons that the culmination of our salvation includes a new body with new heavens and a new earth.
There is a great difference between need and faith. God has already met the need of humanity through the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything humanity could ever need has been provided in the redemption purchased for us by the blood of Jesus. The curse of sin has been broken. The human spirit can be reborn. Our relationship and access to the Father has been restored. The power of attorney to speak, live and petition the Father in the name of Jesus has been transferred to us. All of these great things provided by God to meet our need are available to us only through faith; faith in Jesus Christ.
God has met the need and provided the supply and solution to everything that plagues our lives. We access this supply by our faith in Him.
As you study the New Testament you will find that trouble is not avoided by faith but trouble is overcome by faith.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:35-37)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
There are two major ways to view these passages of scripture:
- That God is glorified by our suffering, pain and persecution and that even though we are suffering in the natural we are spiritually victorious.
- God’s love, grace and power are present with us in every situation in our lives and He is glorified by displaying His strength in times of our weakness.
I believe the second view is the correct and Biblical view. Throughout the Old and New Testaments God glorified Himself by delivering the weak, healing the sick, feeding the hungry and raising the dead. God has made a great name for Himself by doing in our lives what we are incapable of doing for ourselves.
If what we need can be done by human strength and effort what need is there of grace and the power of God? Why do you need faith for something that your own efforts or the efforts of others can produce? You don’t. Faith becomes necessary in your life when that which you need is beyond the realm of human possibility.
Salvation is beyond the realm of human possibility – faith in Jesus Christ is required.
Perhaps you are struggling with life. Perhaps you are facing a situation that efforts of people cannot solve or have not solved. Perhaps you are in need of something that no one seems to have. Maybe you are sick. Maybe your marriage is cracked and broken. Perhaps you have a loved one who is lost or is facing a terrible situation. There are so many possibilities for suffering and problems in this sin cursed world. If you are dealing with something beyond your ability to solve or beyond your ability to fix faith in Jesus Christ is required.
A man in the New Testament faced an overwhelming problem that was beyond his ability to fix:
So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.
“How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.
He replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”
“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”
Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up. (Mark 9:20-27)
What do you mean “If I can?” Anything is possible if a person believes. These are some of the most powerful words in the Bible. You and I will never ask something of God that He is incapable of doing. There is no situation or problem that we are facing that has taken God by surprise or has made Him nervous. He is omnipotent and has meant what He said, “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
The Miracles of Jesus
|Man with leprosy||8:2-4||1:40-42||5:12-13|
|Roman centurion’s servant||8:5-13||7:1-10|
|Two men from Gadera||8:28-34||5:1-15||8:27-35|
|Man with palsy||9:2-7||2:3-12||5:18-25|
|Woman with bleeding||9:20-22||5:25-29||8:43-48|
|Two blind men||9:27-31|
|Mute, demon-possessed man||9:32-33|
|Man with a withered hand||12:10-13||3:1-5||6:6-10|
|Blind, mute, demon-possessed man||12:22||11:14|
|Canaanite woman’s daughter||15:21-28||7:24-30|
|Boy with a demon||17:14-18||9:17-29||9:38-43|
|Two blind men (including Bartimaeus)||20:29-34||10:46-52||18:35-43|
|Possessed man in synagogue||1:23-26||4:33-35|
|Blind man at Bethsaida||8:22-26|
|Man with dropsy||14:1-4|
|Ten men with leprosy||17:11-19|
|The high priest’s servant||22:50-51|
|Nobleman’s son at Capernaum||4:46-54|
|Sick man at pool of Bethesda||5:1-9|
|Man born blind||9:1-7|
Miracles showing power over nature
|Calming the storm||8:23-27||4:37-41||8:22-25|
|Walking on water||14:25||6:48-51||6:19-21|
|Feeding of the 5000||14:15-21||6:35-44||9:12-17||6:5-13|
|Feeding of the 4000||15:32-38||8:1-9|
|Coin in fish’s mouth||17:24-27|
|Fig tree withered||21:18-22||11:12-14, 20-25|
|Large catch of fish||5:4-11|
|Water turned into wine||2:1-11|
|Another large catch of fish||21:1-11|
Miracles of raising the dead
|Jairus daughter||9:18-19, 23-25||5:22-24, 38-42||8:41-42, 49-56|
|Widow’s son at Nain||7:11-15|
Miracles of the Apostles
|Lame man cured (Peter)||3:6-9|
|Death of Ananias and Sapphira||5:10-10|
|Saul’s sight restored (Ananias)||9:17-18|
|Healing of Aeneas||9:33-35|
|Tabitha raised from the dead||9:36-41|
|Lame man cured (Paul)||14:8-10|
|Demon cast out of a girl||16:16-18|
|Raising of Eutychus from the dead||20:9-10|
|Paul unharmed by viper||28:3-5|
|Healing of Publius’ father||28:7-9|
“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
Your needs are important to God – it is for this reason that His grace is available to you through faith in Jesus Christ. Your needs, however, are not going to move the hand of God. If need moved the hand of God there would be no reason to write this message for the problems of life would have been erased.
God’s love for you will never change – regardless of the situation that you are in. God’s grace, however, becomes active in our lives when we believe what He has promised. If we want God to move on our behalf and intervene in our lives we must call upon Him in faith. Faith is not as mysterious as it sounds. Faith is a confident belief that God is who He says He is and will do what He has promised to do.
When you have time please read through the passages of scripture outlined above. You will find many occasions where Jesus says, “Be of good cheer. Your faith has made you well.”
Faith is our connection to God. Faith allows God to be active in your problems and in your life.
“I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven. I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:18-19)
I will agree with you. I believe that Jesus can and will do that which you need Him to do. I believe that He is here with us as we read and pray. Lord we believe you and your Word and ask you to do that which we are incapable of. May your grace be active in that which we pray for and may you receive the glory for showing yourself strong in the midst of our weakness.