Not So Far-Fetched: Is God Good?

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No matter who you are, everyone experiences difficulty. The degree of life’s severity differs from person to person. Right now, many people around the world are experiencing heartbreaking realities. In every season of our lives, in every place of our existence, there is this tension. The tension around our pain asks, “Is God good?”

Before we go any further, you need to know that this message may not be for everyone in this moment. If you’re right in the middle of personal pain, a post on good and evil and why we experience suffering and pain is not always the most helpful thing. When you’re in the middle of it, this kind of message can even be seen as offensive. The goal today is not to offend you. The heart behind this post is to offer help and to offer compassion in the midst of your pain.

People have wrestled with the question of pain and God’s goodness for centuries. The greek philosopher, Epicurus, in 300 BC posed the question this way:

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The problem of pain is very personal. It may have started at a young age through divorced parents or maybe you’ve lost someone. And you’re left asking, “Why is there pain?”

Today, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why we experience pain.

1. We experience pain because the world is broken.

What we’re seeing and experiencing is not the way it is supposed to be. This isn’t the way God wants it to be. Everything began with a Creator.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Genesis 1:1

That’s a big statement, we devoted an entire post to answer the question Is God Real? There, we talked about why we believe God exists. You don’t even need to read the Bible to know God is real. Just look around and you can learn a lot about God. Wherever there is creation, there’s evidence of creation. Wherever there is design, there’s evidence of a designer. Wherever there is moral law and obligation, there is a moral law giver.

Romans 1 says, look around and you’ll learn a lot about the goodness of God. So when God created the heaven and earth, it was perfect. But then, creation rejected the Creator and as a result, nothing is as it should be.

“Cursed is the ground because of you…”  Genesis 3:17

Life is made more difficult. We are all to blame for this brokenness because we have all rejected God and his goodness. God’s plan to restore the world to perfect includes us. The good news is, that God desires for us to join him now in making his plans for restoration, unity, and peace a reality. We find this in Colossians.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God   in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.”  Colossians 1:15-20

So through the work of Christ, the creation that rejected the Creator can now be at peace with God. This is good news. Why, because verse 21:

“This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.”  Colossians 1:21-23

A lot of us are pinning our pain on God. It is not God’s Will that there be earthquakes, typhoons,  hurricanes, tornados and natural disasters. He doesn’t want cancer, disease or death for anyone.

Jesus suffered for this suffering world so that we would find renewal in Him, a renewal that will be completed when Jesus brings heaven and earth fully together in the end.

We’re just not there yet. God’s final plan is not simply that we all go to heaven and everything is fine. His plan is to come back to earth and fix everything. Ultimately, we don’t go up to heaven, heaven comes to earth. He’s going to kick out all sin, all rebellion, and that’s how we’ll live forever. God is rescuing all of creation. That’s what every story in scripture is telling us.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Revelation 21:4

Life is hard because the world is broken, and we experience pain because the world is cursed, but Jesus is restoring all things from the brokenness of the world by his power and through his people. This is temporary. This is not what God has for you forever.

2. We experience pain because of ourselves.

Sometimes we experience pain because we are sinners. We make bad decisions — accidentally and willfully — and these choices make our lives a lot harder.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”  Romans 3:23

Often, life is hard because we not only do evil things, but we don’t respond well when the consequences come.

“People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.”  Proverbs 19:3 NLT

Life is hard because of us. Not all the time, but it is a lot more of the time than we care to admit. No matter the sin, it is vital that we do not simply say, “This is just who I am,” and fail to pursue renewal. In this case we must confess sin and repent. In Jesus we find true wisdom, righteousness, and redemption from our sin. We experience pain because of ourselves, but Jesus graciously forgives us when we confess that our sin has dishonored him and made life complicated and difficult.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9

3. We experience pain because of someone else.

Sometimes life is hard and we experience pain and suffering because others sin against us. We see this throughout scripture in the parable of the good Samaritan where the man is left for dead, Joseph in the Old Testament who’s abandoned by his brothers and David who’s fleeing for his life. It’s also in Job’s story.

“So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.”  Job 2:7

We experience pain because of someone else, and many times that someone else is the great enemy. We don’t live in a playground, we live in a battleground. Where we’ve got to put on the armor of God. Every day there’s a battle for our heart, attention, focus and worship.

If you are experiencing pain because of someone in your life or even because of the enemy, you are not alone. Jesus didn’t stay far away from this battle. He came and experienced it. He came and received the brunt and the judgement that was sentenced. Jesus responded to the great need of humanity by allowing himself to take the position of a victim and bearing the sins and folly of the entire human race.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”  Isaiah 53:5

Therefore, when we are victimized, we should remember that Jesus not only can identify with us in our unjust treatment. He put shame to shame on the cross, we also find power and cleansing in Him.

When we cry out to Jesus, we’re crying out to someone thoroughly acquainted with our pain. 

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7

God can heal you from the harm that has been done to you. And through the power of the cross he can heal your pain.

4. We experience pain because it makes us more like Jesus.

Not everything bad in life is ultimately bad for you. Pain is not without purpose. You see, there is a built in assumption that in order for God to be good, He must never allow evil. But there’s fallout from that way of thinking. It means either God would create nothing or God would create beings with no possibility for moral free will. 

The great paradox of free will is that in order for God to create beings capable of love, He must also create a world where evil and suffering can exist.

He could create a universe with no pain. But also devoid of mercy, love, compassion, true peace, significance, forgiveness or happiness. This is where God stands alone and, amazingly, no other worldview deals with pain the way our God does.

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Through suffering we are more and more acquainted and formed into the image of God’s Son. As you embrace suffering you also grow in hope.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-11

Our perishable bodies are subject to sin and suffering, but God never abandons us. Paul would say the things that happened to him, the pain he experienced, was there to further the gospel.

Our weakest moment may be when we’re the strongest. 

“…Indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Romans 8:17-18

You’re not suffering alone. We suffer with Him. We will be glorified with Him. To those who love God, the suffering doesn’t compare to the glory we have in Christ Jesus. When we look at the character of God and look at the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, it tells us what the answer is not. The answer cannot be because He doesn’t love us, that He isn’t for us or because He isn’t working all things together for good.

God is good. We experience pain. This changes our perspective on life. Have you ever looked at things in your life and said, “Why does this have to be so hard?” Things should be easier. This job should be easier. This education should be easier. This marriage should be easier. Walking with God should be easier. Faith should be easier. This perspective makes you miss so much of the goodness of God. Now, try flipping it around and say, “Life is hard, but God is good.”

Life is hard, but God is good.

When you start with life is hard, then you’ll find blessings along the way. Life is hard, but God is good. Life is hard, but look at God over here being faithful. Life is hard, but you’re going to make it anyway. You may be at the end of your rope, but you’re not at the end of your hope. You may be hard pressed on every side, but God is good – you’re not crushed. You may be perplexed or don’t understand it all, but you’re not in despair.


Check Back

Check back on what you discussed last week. Does anyone have any more thoughts on Noah and the flood? Did anyone have any exciting conversations or times studying God’s Word?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

This week we looked at the questions, “Is God Good?” We ask this questions because of the pain we see around us, and because of the pain we see in the world. It leaves us asking, “How could a good God allow pain?”

Spend some time in the word of God together as a group. Read Colossians 1:15-23. (If you have time consider reading the entire New Testament book of Colossians. It takes about 15 minutes.)

We learn from God’s Word that we experience pain because of four main reasons.

1. We experience pain because the world is broken.

Things are not the way God created them to be, because creation has rejected the Creator. (Genesis 1:1, Genesis 3:17, Revelation 21:4)

2. We experience pain because of ourselves.

Sometimes we experience pain because we are sinners. We make bad decisions – accidentally and willfully – and these choices make our lives a lot harder. (Romans 3:23, Proverbs 19:3, 1 John 1:9)

3. We experience pain because of someone else.

Other people cause us pain. The enemy, the devil, also causes us pain. (Job 2:7, Isaiah 53:3, 1 John 1:7)

4. We experience pain because it makes us more like Jesus.

Sometimes we experience pain because God is good. When we embrace suffering, we become more like Jesus, who suffered for a suffering world. (2 Corinthians 4:8-11, Romans 8:17-18)

Application

  1. What stood out to you in the message? What did you hear?
  2. What pain are you experiencing because the world is broken and the way life was supposed to operate is fractured?
  3. What pain are you experiencing that you brought on yourself?
  4. Are you carrying any pain because of another person? What pain do we see as a result of our great enemy, the devil?
  5. How can pain conform us more into the likeness of Christ?
  6. Based on the life, death and resurrection of Christ, does the existence of pain mean there is no God?

Tell Someone Else

The world says, ” God is hard, but life is good!” The reality is, “Life is hard, but God is good.” How can this change our perspective and attitude toward life for the better? Who needs to be reminded of God’s goodness through you?

 

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