By Tim Frank
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Carthage
In this life, there are few things that are universally experienced by every person. Among those universal experiences are pain and suffering. Whether sickness or disease, by unintentional or purposeful actions, life is filled with pain and suffering. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have tribulation.”
A second universal experience connected to pain and suffering is the obvious question, “Why?” This question haunts the cancer patient, the couple who recently lost their teenage son in a car accident, and the community devastated by a tornado. Why pain? Why suffering? Why death? Often, the greatest challenge is felt by the believer who trusts in Jesus, prays for healing and deliverance, and yet sees his loved one succumb to disease and slip away in death.
How do we make sense of pain and suffering? Where do we turn for answers that are more than tired clichés? The universal source of truth to the hard questions about pain and suffering are found in the Bible, God’s Word.
We start with the basic question; why does suffering exist? The ultimate answer is found in Genesis. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. At the end of each day of Creation, God said it was good, climaxing on the sixth day when He said the Creation, including man, was very good (Genesis 1:31). To mankind, God gave dominion and power over the creation to care for it. He made Eve and brought her to Adam. All was perfect and right.
God established one law for living in the Garden of Eden; do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16, 17). The consequence of disobedience would be death. The sad story is told in Genesis 3 as the serpent tempts Eve to eat of the forbidden tree. She takes the fruit, eats, and gives to Adam and he eats. In that moment, sin enters into the perfect world God created, and the continual consequence has been pain, suffering, and death.
To the woman, there was inflicted pain in childbirth. To the man, there was pronounced painful labor, sweat of the brow, and ultimately death and decay. Sin messed the whole thing up.
Thousands of years of pain and suffering, death and decay have followed that one sinful act. Sinful nature is the default of every human being and sinful choices plague each life. In Romans 3:23, Paul states that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and in Romans 6:23, he continues with the universal consequence of our sin, “the wages of sin is death.”
However, in the midst of pain, suffering, and death, there is hope. That hope is in the forgiveness and eternal life which comes through personal faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 8:18 reminds those who believe in Jesus that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” In this life, we groan under the pain and suffering of sin. In fact, the entire creation groans and eagerly awaits deliverance from the curse of sin (Romans 8:20-21).
There is coming a day of redemption and deliverance from suffering and pain, a day when every tear will be dried. There will be no more pain, nor suffering, nor sighing, nor death!
The end of suffering, pain, and sorrow; the death of death. To this promise, we cry out with the Scriptures (Revelation 22:20), “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”