| Table of
I start with what may seem an obvious proposition. In this imperfect world, pain and hardship are a part of life. No one is immune from them. No one can claim any right to be free of them. Some suffer more than others, and that may be thought to raise a question of fairness, which I shall address later. But no one is exempt.
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, our sins are forgiven, we enter into eternal life, and we can look forward to spending eternity in heaven with God. We have the Holy Spirit living within us, we become adopted sons of God, and we are enabled to start a remarkable process of transformation in our lives. These are tremendous gifts, which we do not deserve, and for which we should be very thankful. We receive them by the grace of God, and part of the definition of grace is “unmerited favor.” But I do not see anything in Scripture that says that we are exempt from pain and suffering.
Scripture says that we can expect difficulties, testing and suffering. One difference is that we are much better able to deal with them because of the power of God working in us, because of the hope that God always gives us, and because of the support and love of our fellow-believers.
God has many blessings for us. He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or think, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV). But blessings are gifts. No one is entitled to them. When we get them we give thanks, but if we do not get all that we hoped for, we have no right to complain.
God does not owe us anything (Romans 11:35; Job 41:11). God has generously given us the tremendous blessing of forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation. Compared to that, everything else becomes relatively unimportant. (See 2 Corinthians 4:17.)
We Live in an Imperfect World
When God created the earth, put plants and animals on it, and created man, he looked at everything he had made and saw that it was very good (Genesis 1:31). There was no sin and no death. Eventually, there will be a world in which there is no sin, no death, no pain and no suffering. But for the present, pain and suffering are a part of our life. How did this come about?
The Fall in Eden
At the Creation, God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He gave them everything they needed. They had food, shelter, and dominion over the earth. They walked with God every afternoon. He put only one restriction on them. He told them not to eat the fruit of one tree. He did not want them to know (experience) evil.
They disobeyed and were driven out of Eden. Adam and Eve, who knew God intimately, chose to believe the serpent (satan) rather than God. They chose to do things their way rather than God’s way.
The result was that sin and death came into the world for the first time.
Pain is mentioned for the first time. God told Eve, “in pain you shall bring forth children” (Genesis 3:16). He told Adam that he would “toil” and would have to struggle against “thorns and thistles” (Genesis 3:17-18). Pain and suffering came into the world as a result of the wrong decision Adam and Eve made.
Since the Fall in Eden, the earth has been under a curse.
Why did God allow this to happen? Because he wanted men and women to have free will, to have genuine freedom of choice. He wanted them to serve him and love him by their own free choice, and not because they were incapable of doing anything else.
Having free will means that you can choose wrongly. The price for giving man free will was that man, in the persons of Adam and Eve, made a terrible mistake, which had profound consequences.
Some might question God’s decision to give man free will. But God is God, and we cannot change him, nor should we want to.
God said to Job, “Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?” (Job 40:8). We have to accept God as he is, and give thanks that he is such a wonderful God.
If we want to blame someone for our suffering, we should not blame God. If anyone is to blame, it is Adam and Eve.
There Will Be a World Without Pain and Suffering
At some time in the future, there will be a world without pain and suffering for those who are righteous and follow God.
There will be “everlasting joy” and “they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10). (Also see Isaiah 51:11.) “They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:9; 65:25). “There shall be no more curse” (Revelation 22:3).
Our bodies now are perishable, dishonorable and weak; but we shall eventually have bodies that are imperishable, glorious, and powerful (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Even animals will no longer eat each other (Isaiah 11:6-9, 65:25).
The present world is not the way God finally wants it. But for the present, we have to deal with the world as it now is.