Kid Worldview—The Disaster in Japan, Part 2: Why is there suffering?

admin —  March 19, 2011
By Beth Groh

“If God loves us so much, why does He allow people to suffer?”

You might hear that. You might even think that.

So you shouldn’t be surprised, as Christian parents, if your children aren’t wondering the same if they see the recent death, destruction and suffering in Japan.

Take the question head on, Frontline Moms (and Dads)! What a wonderful opportunity to share with your children—and others—the sweet taste of the Gospel in God’s Word.

How?

Once again, let’s start by examining our worldview.

From man’s worldview, there’s no good answer for suffering.

Option A: Suffering is a balance thing. Death and suffering=a counter-balance for life and pleasure. You can’t tip the scale one way without, at times, expecting it to tip back the other (a “yin and yang.”) Our world is governed solely by laws of nature so the human condition is bound to pay a price from time to time as this balance wobbles.

Option B: Sadly, some view suffering as a “God problem.” If God’s supposed to be all about love, a humanist argues, then a “loving” God shouldn’t allow pain. That means He’s either: 1) cruel, 2) detached, 3) disinterested and distant, 4) punishing us or worse, 5) He’s non-existent.

That’s man’s worldview in a nutshell on suffering…one that has without a doubt led to the rejection of God by countless souls.

But now let’s put on our biblical worldview glasses and look at suffering.

The pain is just as real–but the purpose and perspective is entirely different.

All we have to do is start with Genesis…and there we see God’s perfect plan. He called His creation “good”—and clearly it provided for all the needs of His first human creatures, Adam and Eve. No sickness. No want. No death.

Then sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience. They paid the price—mortality, hard work, pain, grief—and we still do today through our sinful nature. As the Apostle Paul explains in the fifth chapter of Romans (verse 12): “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because all sinned.”

Sin–death–suffering. They’re all OPPOSITES of what God designed for this world, which He called “good.”

But God created us with a free will. Adam and Eve willfully chose to sin–and that Original Sin led to our sinful natures. So, yes, I sin daily…you probably do too.

And if that was the end of the story, boy, we would all be in despair—like so many in Japan may be experiencing today.

But, thanks be to God, that’s not the end of the story. It’s the beginning.

We know that—yes—sin came into the world through the one man, Adam. But salvation also came into the world—for all who believe—through the sacrifice of the “Second Adam,” our Savior Jesus Christ.

We saw a glimpse of that promise in the Garden of Eden. God sacrificed an animal to provide the skin covering for Adam and Eve’s shame in their nakedness—the first blood sacrifice for sin. Jesus later shed His blood to cover our sins.

So remember this as parents—when we see suffering and death, we should remind ourselves and our children that this was NOT part of God’s perfect plan for us. But He has provided a path out through His Son.

That’s our first lesson…and next we’ll find the biblical perspective for those who say suffering is “punishment.” What did Jesus say?

For more insights on this topic, please explore the vast resources found at http://www.answersingenesis.org/. Dr. Tommy Mitchell has a powerful and easy-to-understand article called “Why Does God’s Creation Include Death and Suffering?”  It's also available as an evangelism tract.

Samaritan’s Purse is another good charity that is already mobilized and helping with the crisis in Japan. Donating to their efforts would be an excellent way to put feet to our faith.

Image courtesy of Steven Goodwin