JOB 11, 12, 13 and 14
Many years ago, I was rather careless with my iPad; I allowed some heavy object to fall on it and later discovered that the glass was cracked!!! After that, most of the time it worked brilliantly, but every so often it went completely wild and irrational. More about this later.
One of the main objections raised by unbelievers to the very existence of a loving God is the universal pain and suffering in the world. “How could a God of love permit the kinds of things that occur to so many innocent people?”, they ask. This is often a heart-felt and honest question and one that cannot be brushed aside by some theological ‘sleight of hand’.
It is true that much suffering is in some senses, self-imposed: man brings it upon himself by ignoring God’s wise advice and defying his commands. If a person chooses to ignore the manufacturer’s instructions and misuses an item of household equipment, then that person is themselves to blame for any injury caused; the same must surely apply to God’s creation. People who greedily overeat or who indulge in too much alcohol or too little exercise, are not treating their bodies as God intended. Power-hungry rulers fight to steal land from surrounding nations. Some companies greedy for gain show scant disregard for their local environment. Poverty is caused not by a lack of resources, but by a world imbalance of ownership. All of these things are to some extent, self-imposed. But this still does not explain why tsunamis and hurricanes occur, or children die at birth or killer diseases wipe out entire populations!
The real answer is actually found in the third chapter of Genesis: we live in a broken world. As a consequence of mankind’s original sin, some fundamental changes for the worse occurred in God’s creation. As well as human relationships deteriorating (Genesis 3:16b), complications with childbirth (3:16a) and, of course spiritual and physical death (3:19b), there was also a deterioration in the nature of the world (3:19a) – which would become as un-submissive to man as man was to God. The changing nature of creation is better described in Romans 8:19-22. It has itself come under God’s original curse and is awaiting redemption just as we are; this will occur when Christ returns.
At present, then, we live in a broken world – one that has large splashes of beauty mixed with chilling ugliness, and foretastes of Hell mingled with glimpses of Heaven! What we see NOW is NOT what it was intended to be like. Creation is like a great painting that has been vandalised, or a beautiful woman who has had acid thrown at her face. So, we cannot blame its maker – any more than if you smashed the glass on your iPad, you would consider blaming Apple for poor workmanship! In our world, so-called ‘natural disasters’ are nothing of the sort; they are a distortion, a twisting of what was once pure beauty. If we stick close to the Creator, we will one day see the Great Masterpiece restored in all its glory, without blemish or fault… and for us, death and sorrow will have been banished forever! Furthermore, Romans 8 tells us that the quicker our human hearts are redeemed, the quicker Creation will receive its renewal too. In other words, WE are the key!