Prayer and Suffering
By Kim Huffman, Minister Goshen Christian Church
Have you ever struggled with knowing how or what to pray for someone? What do you do when you pray but God doesn’t seem to answer your prayers? For whatever reason, sometime the Lord chooses not to answer my prayers or yours, in the way that we would like.
Why does a God of Love allow His children to go through pain and suffering? I must be honest and tell you, that I do not have all the answers to the why questions that come to my mind. But if you will bear with me, I will try to speak to some things that I hope will help us wrestle with these questions.
God is Good!
“God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5). “God tempts no one” (James 1:13). “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). I know that God does not make mistakes. He never fails. His intention for us from creation was nothing but good (Genesis 2). The end of God’s communication with us (Revelation 22) tells us that God’s intention for us is to be with Him around the tree of life for eternity.
Sin came and God’s intentions were compromised. Sin has separated us from God and caused us to suffer in many ways. Because God loved us He sent His son Jesus to be the payment for our sins. Sin has been paid for, but sin is still alive and well on earth. Only when we commit our lives to Christ and are obedient to His commands can we have our sins forgiven. The consequences of sin however, still have to be dealt with in our physical existence.
It is difficult for us to understand how God, who is good, could allow pain, suffering, and evil in our world. The reason these things do exist is because God is good. God gives us free will. If He didn’t, we would just be puppets on His strings and we would not be able to make our own decisions.
Reasons for Suffering
1. Sometimes God allows pain and suffering because of our sins. We make bad choices and we have to face the consequences of those bad choices (James 1:14,15). Acts 5 is a story about Ananias and Sapphira, who lied to the Holy Spirit. The consequence of their lie was that they both fell dead. Galatians 6:7,8 is true-we reap whatever we sow.
2. Sometimes God allows suffering because of other people’s sins. In Joshua 7, Achan disobeyed God’s instructions by taking spoils from Jericho. As a result, even though the rest of Israel had done nothing wrong, 36 men died and the army retreated at Ai. We all know of people whose drinking, divorce or careless driving has caused innocent people to suffer.
3. Sometimes God allows suffering because it produces positive results. James 2:3 says that the testing of our faith produces endurance. Romans 5:3 says that tribulation brings about perseverance. It is the experiences in the valley that make us appreciate the mountain top experiences even more. Suffering can move us closer to God.