By John Muncy
Let’s first establish an important point…THE CHIEF PURPOSE OF LIFE IS NOT HAPPINESS BUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.
Unless we can put that fact in proper perspective, we will NEVER get a proper footing on ANYTHING in this life. I think the main reason that the problem of evil and suffering seems so difficult for most of us is that we tend to naturally assume that if God exists, then His purpose for human life is our happiness. While that may seem to be a very popular perception, it is not a Biblical one.
The goal of life is a personal knowledge and a relationship with God – which ultimately – will, in the end, bring eventual human fulfillment and happiness. But basing life on happiness makes much of the suffering in our world to be viewed as utterly unreasonable and pointless. That is because evil, pain and suffering does not produce human happiness in this life. But, on the other hand, it may not be so futile if one considers how these things can actually produce a deeper knowledge of God.
Suffering has a way of achieving one of two things; either it can generate, (upon the person who is suffering or those around him); a great anger and blame thrown upon God, or it can create a deeper dependency and trust upon God. Of course, whether or not God’s purpose is achieved is going to depend on your response – upon how you choose to respond to suffering?
Do you automatically respond with anger and bitterness toward God for allowing you to go through this evil, pain or suffering? Or do you respond with faith and deeper dependency on God as you go through these trials? The reaction reveals a powerful part of who and what we are as individuals; and will allow us to make wiser choices for a greater good.
As harsh as this may seem to some of you, I think that the Lord is less concerned with what we may be going through than with our attitude while going through it! It may well be the case that suffering in this world is part of God’s plan for drawing people freely into His Kingdom.
Now don’t throw this out, yet…please read on…
God’s ultimate purpose for human history is to bring humans into relationship with Himself. We cannot truly see a proper perspective to human history apart from seeing it in the light of the Kingdom of God. God is bringing something about on this planet. The “big picture” and the purpose of human history is God’s ultimate plan for mankind – the everlasting Kingdom of God. And as hard as it may be to accept it, sometimes a world of suffering has a logical reason and purpose – to pave a path back to God.
I think it is worth noting that in those countries of the world that are experiencing the worse of suffering – that Christianity – is growing at its most rapid rates.
CONSIDER CHINA FOR AN EXAMPLE…
It is estimated that 20 million Chinese lost their lives under Mao’s Revolution. Christians stood firm in what was probably the most widespread and harsh persecution the Church has ever experienced. Yet the story is not over. The persecution purified and indigenized the Church. SINCE 1977, THE GROWTH OF THE CHURCH IN CHINA HAS NO PARALLELS IN HISTORY! But here’s the point: Researchers estimate that there were 30 to 50 million Christians in China by 1990. And today, it is estimated to be somewhere between 90 million and 100 million. MAO ZEDONG UNWITTINGLY BECAME THE GREATEST EVANGELIST IN HISTORY!! There are now more believers in communist China than in the United States of America!!
EL SALVADOR: The 12-year civil war, earthquakes, and the collapse of the economy have impoverished the nation. Over 80% live in dire poverty. Yet, an astonishing spiritual harvest has been gathered from all levels of society in the midst of the hate and bitterness of war. In 1960, only 2.3% of the population were evangelicals Christians, but today, they are at least 25%!
ETHIOPIA: Ethiopia is in a state of shock. Her population struggles with the trauma of millions of deaths through famine, repression and war. Two great waves of violent persecution refined and purified the Protestant Church, and despite the many martyrs, dying for their faith in Christ, millions more are coming to Christ. From 1960, Christianity has grown from 0.8% to nearly 18.6% of the population becoming Protestant believers.
Examples like this could be multiplied over and over again. When you look at the history of mankind, it has been a history of war and suffering; and yet it has also been a history of the advance of the Kingdom of God.
Don’t immediately conclude that evil, pain, or suffering leaves no room for God to show His strength and grace! Realize that there is a greater good that comes through things that we may question right now – but given time – we find that God was not hiding or was missing out on something. When it is all said and done, we will have to humbly admit, “He doeth all things well.”
I know this post has NOT even scraped the surface of this deep issue, but is a starting point to address why God permits evil, even though He is a good God.
I hope that you will follow these posts as I try to update them. Be open to what I have to share. For those of you who are struggling with your faith, or for those of you who are doubting God’s existence or His care, please give this a serious thought – and feel free to input your own thoughts.
God bless you all! – John Muncy