One of the most common questions about the Christian faith (and many other religions for that matter) is how to reconcile the existence of a merciful God with the suffering that exists in the world.
Many who have lost a loved one to illness, or accident, or experienced suffering in their lives have asked themselves “Why is God allowing this to happen?” So it of course comes as no surprise that Theologians ask this question too. One such Theologian is Dr Ross Clifford, Principal of Morling College who 96five’s Timothy Charles sat down to chat with recently.
The brilliant story about all of this is that God does something about it!
It’s a big question for us to face as Christians. Often it is a painful question for us to face as well. I mean where is God in my time of need and suffering? How can God be good if bad things happen? Ross Clifford has asked himself this question many times, and he has found peace in his own understanding “I can tell you that Christianity at least gives the most comforting response.” To fully grasp the question being asked though it helps to go back to the beginning – Genesis.
The world was good. Adam and Eve were good. Why though did God allow for them to take the apple? Why allow them to sin? Its a story literally as old as time. They decided to go their own way, and God allowed them to walk that path. As a result of that the bible tells us that sin came into the world – darkness and suffering came into the world. Which of course doesn’t sound that great! According to Ross though “The brilliant story about all of this is that God does something about it!”.
I’m praying to a God that understands, who’s been there, who’s walked that journey.
God puts his own son, Jesus on earth to speak to us directly. To have him live a life. To assist in our understanding of his word and bring forgiveness. After all he lived with us on this earth for 33 years. He knew what it meant to live a life, and what it meant to sacrifice that life. So then through that sacrifice – we are forgiven of our sins. This is God’s answer to our ability for sin, he opens up his capacity for forgiveness. He shows us through Jesus’s teachings the path to his kingdom.
The Bible says – “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 and yet healing can be very elusive for some people. We can take comfort in knowing that God understands our pain. After all, Jesus lived through it himself “I’m not praying to a distant God,” Ross explains, “I’m praying to a God that understands, who’s been there, who’s walked that journey, who has been part of that. Like the poem ‘Footprints’ says “When you’re at your deepest need is when the footprints are the deepest, because that’s when I am carrying you.”
As said earlier it is a big question, and it’s a question we as Christians will most likely be asking ourselves for quite some time. However find peace in our knowledge and understanding of the fact that this is a God that knows what it means to give us freedom, to give us forgiveness, and to walk in our shoes.