Does God Cause Suffering?
Does God cause suffering? Does God allow it? The issue of suffering is one of the most perplexing our faith faces. Jesus promises to all who follow him great joy and a peace that passes understanding. He also says in three of the four gospels “take up the cross and follow me.” There is no free ride. The end result makes the sufferings of the present bearable.
Is suffering God’s punishment on us? Remember the story of the prodigal son? It wasn’t the father’s punishment that made the son flat broke and starving. It was the result of his own actions. And when the son came back home the father restored to him a place in the full fellowship of the household.
I believe there are three kinds of suffering in the world. We suffer when we choose evil over God because we cut ourselves off from everything good. We suffer, like Job, when we choose God over evil because evil strives to keep us from God. And we suffer because sins and evil exist in the world. The consequences of our actions today may exist well into our great grandchildren’s lifetime, just as we now live with the results of our ancestors’ actions.
Why should the whole nation suffer? We’re a connected people. The suffering of one affects us all. That’s part of what it means to be a people of God. When one member is hurt or in pain or feels disconnected from God and the community of believers, we are all diminished.
—Rev. Marty Aden
- How does our stewardship relate to suffering?
- Is suffering God’s punishment on us? If so, how? If not, what is suffering a result of?
- How can we encourage those who are suffering without making them feel we are offering only pity or piety?
How Do I Act?
- Locate a place where suffering exists. Find out how God is at work there. Talk about possible solutions to that suffering or ways to lessen the pain. Try some of these solutions within the next month.
- Live out the connectional nature of the Church. Take a look at what your church and presbytery are doing in a connectional way. Thank God for these ways. Ask God to help you in the places where you are not being connectional.
- Read the Confession of Faith to find out what Cumberland Presbyterians believe about being a connected people. Make a poster board with these sections on it and put up the poster in a place where all people will see it.