September 2010


How Should We Respond To Suffering and Evil?

This question is frequently a great challenge for us. We live in a tragically fallen world. We strive continually against our own inner depravity. We cling to Christ for the power to destroy the constant pull of our own sin nature. Many of us suffer much affliction. We are sobered by the truth of Ps 34:19 Ė that many are the afflictions of the righteous. But we also are comforted by this same verse in which the Lord promises to deliver His children through all their affliction.

As a result of evil and the fallen condition of our world, we see so many suffer in our families, our community, our Nation and throughout the world. Life can be very difficult, even dreadful for many. The compassion of Christ causes us to grieve when we see so many suffer. Christís love causes us to grieve for our family and friends [Matt 5:4]. Godís love also stretches our hearts to internalize the pain of anyone who suffers. In this divine love, we are to love and pray for those who are our enemies, Matt 5:44. In the context of those who would harm us, our "enemies", the Lord instructs us not to be overcome by evil, but rather to overcome evil with good Rom 12:21. We are to bless those who seek to persecute and "curse" us, Rom 12:20, 1 Pet 3:9.

As we were reminded the last two Sunday mornings in 2 Cor 4:1 Ė "we do not lose heart". We remain steadfast. We do not shrink back even in the midst of unimaginable hardship like the Apostle Paul details in this letter to Corinth. Paul suffered often at the hands hands of those who treated him with cruelty, and under the affliction of ministering the gospel to others [see for example, 2 Cor 11:21-31].

We do not lose heart because we have received the precious gift of ministry of the transforming glory of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel is transforming us into the image of Christ, 2 Cor 3:18. It transforms all who receive the good news that we share. Even those who reject this good news have been offered the greatest treasure in the universe Ė eternal life through the blood of Christ, the "pearl of great price", Matt 13:45-46, which is infinitely more valuable than anything else life could provide.

The Lord works all things together for good for His children, Rom 8:28. This includes terrible circumstances, hurtful people and demonic spirits. Nothing can happen to us apart from Godís sovereign will. He reigns supreme over all things, Ps 103:19, Eph 1:11. Thus we are to rejoice always, Phil 4:4. "We exult in our tribulations" knowing their perfect, divinely intended result," perseverance", "proven character", "hope", and the experience of Godís satisfying "love", Rom 5:3-5.

Too often we cannot understand the Lordís higher ways and thoughts. They are above our own like the heavens are immeasurably above the earth, Is 55:8-9.  So we are not to lean on our own understanding,  but in everything

we are to acknowledge the need to submit to Godís perfect will, Prov 3:5-6, so that through our submission the Lord can direct our lives according to His infinite wisdom and love, Rom 12:1-2.

Godís higher agenda for our lives is to make us like Jesus Christ, Eph 1:19,2 Cor 3:18, Rom 8:28-29. If necessary, the Lord will not hesitate to further His higher agenda by means of allowing us to suffer evil and hardship. The Lordís power, love, holiness and wisdom merge to govern evil so that its results are always perfect in our lives if we respond to the trial with enduring faith, 1 Cor 10:13. The Lord does not make mistakes with regard to our lives. He does not do wrong with regard to the lives of everyone born into this world. All of the Lordís ways are perfect, Ps 18:30. There are countless examples of this in Scripture. Let me list just a few: Joseph [Gen 50:20],  Job,  Ahab [1 Kings 22:13-40],  Paul [2 Cor 12:7],  Peter and the d isciples [Luke 22:31],

the unparalleled devastation of evil through the Antichrist throughout the seven year tribulation "seventieth week of Daniel", [Dan 9:27, Rev 4-18], and our Lord Jesus Christ when He died on the cross for our sins, [Acts 2:22-24].

Therefore we need to heed the wise instruction given to us in Ps 62:8:

"Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us."

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Community Church of the Santa Ynez Valley
240 E. Highway 246
Buellton, CA 93427