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BULLETIN TWENTY NINE
THE MEANING OF PAIN AND SUFFERING
See also MMMM 13
Some are outraged at suffering. WHY does any good God allow this ?
SO, you drink drugs, finish off with alcohol, drive fast while inebriated and when you writhe in long anguish, ask: WHY me ?
SO humanity in effect does the same, and now writhes in anguish, this party, part, element, aspect, age group, and that, now stricken and called innocent, and history and its maker blamed! And then it asks, Why this human race ?
WHY should we suffer anguish, and uncertainty and upset, and wounds, and diseases, and viruses and new kinds of diseases, and many find no go when they reach out their corporate and unrepentant hands for eternal life, while marvelling as if men were gods, because some can fiddle with the written instructions for the composition of bodies from generation to generation, the DNA, already written freely into life, but seen to be written no more, although magnificent in subtle provisions for mini-variations on a basic and unchangeable theme.
Many directly or indirectly make the claim to be gods, or act as if man were the ultimate, and engage in other duplicity and confusion. God may indeed leave man to suffer from the forces of nature without intervention, in order to SHOW him the folly of imagining these made him, rather than that they need watchfulness and wisdom to meet, in the security of divine wisdom.
Which things then involve guilt and disaster ?
Which ? Why pretending in terms of that 'lie' as God calls it (II Thessalonians 2:11), which would avoid the living God and all that comes from Him, the conditions of our lives and the restrictions and rules, morals and methods, even imagining that we are gender-fluid, despite the billions of nucleated cells in each body clearly proclaiming the contrary in specified and specific instructions, so that in an evil way, man in even more evil imaginations, flounders in folly as in the days before the flood (Genesis 6:5). Denying himself AS a creation of God, manifest and incontestable, to be built in each generation on a plan which is spelt out in the equivalent of many volumes of an encyclopedia, a biological one, able to be seen, and observably implemented, he romances with regality, a great chap with splendid resources within himself, whom he virtually comes to worship if nothing else comes in to pre-occupy his thoughts.
But what does he do that he might suffer ? even as a nation ? What things ?
WHICH ? why in teaching in schools that nothing made everything, or that nature did it before it was there to do it, or in any case, something came from nothing, for the ONLY alternative is that it came from something always there, for if the ALL were EVER absent then nothing would be the ALL and it is nothing that comes from nothing, for if it did, it would come from something with potential or a past and so on. Nothing is the omission of anything and everything, future, past and present. Thus what came, and we are here, had to come from the eternal God, an necessarily adequate Being for results, and accordingly new DNA happily coming from no intelligence is not found.
So so-called scientists (those of them affected and afflicted with this tedious untruth) tell us in the name of science about these ultimate marvels, and teach children so, contrary to all that is known and seen, as to scientific laws such as the first and second laws of thermodynamics, which speak of the conservation of matter and energy, it is here and proceeds, and the degradation of energic forms into entropy, so that what is here becomes less available in its energy. Now these things have been rehearsed in detail often on this site, as in SMR, TMR, The gods of naturalism have no go!, but they are noted here concerning suffering and pain. Their denial of godliness and their rampaging use in government paid propaganda with authoritarian didactic totalitarianism, is a cause of suffering as youth increasingly undirected, grunts its deluded acceptance of the nonsense so basic to approbation in many cases, if they are to 'succeed' in their careers. It is not so with all youth ? of course God has His own, but it is so with a vast majority. Again, many escape when older, they reason for themselves or are found out by grace through other means; but the many are on the broad path, and this being ill-made and protected leads to pain and sorrow by sheer wilfulness.
SO man is breaching all wisdom and knowledge systematically and teaching his children so in utter breach of scientific method (cf. Scientific Method), and THEN WONDERS WHY he suffers ?
It is first of all, because of this utter reckless abandon, unrealism, purposeful irrationality, misuse of youth, misdirection of the minds of scholars, persecution of those who remind mankind of its real position, plight, curse and twisted thanklessness. It is of course done in other ways as well, but this is illustrative.
It is secondly because on the whole, mankind is not listening to the Gospel of grace and mercy, presented at vast cost to God, by which He went so far as to envelop His eternal WORD and expression, in flesh in the incarnation through a virgin, so that He might both manifest the truth in the love with which He was sent, and die in place of man, as many as received Him, to bear the results of sin in deserved death (John 1:12, I Peter 3:18), for sin is not competent for eternity, but highly so for death. It thus leads mankind in bulk to become thankless, ruthless and truthless. And yet some wonder WHY God 'permits' such suffering!
Nor are any 'innocent' except they receive this substitution of Christ Jesus the Lord for their curse, and the divine and magnificent presentation for their cure (John 3:15-36). Moreover, before God invented our kind of time for our use as creatures which He has made together with our astronomical setting, He foreknew (before sin came), saw and knew the souls of men, so that their destiny was also something He knew and did not permit to be misplaced, this being sound planning with care). As you see from Christ's words in John 15:22ff., Matthew 23:37 and Colossians 1:19ff., it is not GOD who by fancy excludes any seeking the knowledge of Himself, DESPITE their sin, by His divine desire, without manhandling or brutalising man's choice, WOULD HAVE ALL TO BE RECONCILED TO HIMSELF. It is with this in mind that He has acted, just as Christ showed in HIS own life on earth, the character of His love, and in His laments at the pure and unrestrained wilfulness on the part of those who would not come to Him so that they might find rest (Matthew 11), and in love proclaim to others the way for life.
Avoid life and what ? avoid eternal life and then ? and then death is the result, but a kind of death fitting for those who dismissed the light, even the saving light of God.
But there are many subsidiary reasons why suffering and pain can come, even to Christians.
First there is the ULTIMATE reason, that is, the PURPOSE of God. It is indeed true that He works all things after the counsel of His own will, and note the word "WORKS". He is no blind artist! (Ephesians 1:11). With Job, the suffering was to show by test, one allowing the inciting devil to use disease and suffering, that the love of Job was sincere, and not a mean and scurrilously deceitful way of 'playing' with God to get the most reward out of Him, like a rattled slot-machine. It was because Job was such a good example that he was chosen for this form of suffering!
It is easy to play God and imagine He is wrong to test or try you; and it is as much possible to suffer for this as for other things, such as because you defy Him, and hence invoke ever so many evils on the earth to meet you in the Unprotected Zone.
There are so many INTIMATE reasons also, with the general opening.
God could use pain or suffering to cause you to probe your heart - it may well be that this was the case with Hezekiah, who suffered disease and was miraculously healed, after much heart-searching and seeking of God, only later to make an intensely foolish choice that led to much trouble for many people, though in this he was an instrument, not the main cause.
The Lord could use it as with David in the ill-advised census of his army (I Chronicles 21), to bring a deep illumination and prevent any glorying in incidental things, as if these mattered at all in comparison with the ultimate things, like friendship with God and reliance on Him, both for salvation and sanctification, as one works, knowing the night is coming when no man can work! and so is the destiny which relies on God only (as in Psalm 32, 73).
Suffering can come to teach various lessons, whether personal or propositional, whether to increase grace and graciousness, spiritual perception and understanding, or to decrease any tendency towards the bombastic, the self-assertive or the self-congratulatory; or to teach wisdom, such as the avoidance of that corrosive callousness in which power so readily corrupts. Indeed, if some kind of chastening does not occur, man is in a very bad way, for within his salvation, and as saved, as a believing child of God, when this happens, he MUST, says Hebrews 12, be brought up, disciplined like any groomed child; and indeed without it, we read, he more resembles an illegitimate not brought up at all.
Thus there are EDUCATIONAL reasons which may apply with man or woman or child though Christian, suffers.
It may as also with Job, be for an EXEMPLARY reason, that this in some way teaches others who witness what occurs. It may simultaneously provide a refinement to the one who suffers, as it must certain did with Job (cf. Job 40:1-7).
Sometimes, as again with Job, the whole purpose of a form of suffering would be voided if the one suffering knew the reason for it. If Job had known this was some kind of a test, that these earthly calamities befell him, then he might have inwardly smirked and said, This will pay off in the end, so I might as well bear it: the profit is great at last! But in this case the query was there: WOULD HE TRUST GOD, and was it love not self-interest that drove him ? In Job 19 you see a very definite answer to that, but it was SO definite because the test had been both long and arduous, very human and very deep.
So the test may be for TEMPORARILY HIDDEN reasons.
Enough has now been said, to bring the grandeur and scope of pain and suffering before us, both the generic liability as for the human race, and the individual and indeed national cases as well.
If you suffer for
Christ, happy are you! as Peter declares, and as the apostles showed when
wrongfully PUBLICLY BEATEN for adhering valiantly to the testimony of Jesus the
(I Peter 4:14-16, Acts 6:33-43)..