WORLD SUFFERING
All scriptural quotes are from the World English Bible unless otherwise noted

 

It is not unusual to find that some believers are stumbled from the Faith due to their questions regarding God's role in mankind's affairs. In most cases such ones begin to question why there is so much pain and suffering in the world if there really is a God. They don't understand how a truly loving Creator can ignore the misery of warfare, famine, sickness, and abuse that is rampant in the world.

And even if there is a God, does He even care?

ORIGINAL SIN'S ROLE

Adam and Eve's role in original sin was the first pebble in the landslide of human pain and suffering. It is important to realize that when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit it wasn't simply a matter of taking food that didn't belong to them, it was much more than that:

To begin with, they both knew that eating the fruit would mean death (Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-3). At some point, though, Satan told Eve that the death sentence was untrue, and that by eating the fruit she'd actually be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:4-5). In effect, Satan was claiming that God was lying to them and trying to hide something good from them. In spite of the penalty of death she chose to eat the fruit anyway, and shared some with Adam (Genesis 3:6). Upon doing this they both realized they had done serious wrong and tried to hide from God, but to no avail (Genesis 3:7-13).

The biggest problem here is that Eve realized the discrepancy between God's words and Satan's, yet she did not question this. She was apparently more interested in being like God instead. And since she shared the fruit with Adam, he apparently wanted to be like God too.

This was a significant event: The act of taking the fruit with the idea of becoming like God meant that, essentially, they were rejecting God's rulership in favour of their own. This rejection of God's rulership was a direct challenge to God's right to sovereignty.

ISSUE OF SOVEREIGNTY

Why should God be sovereign?

Because God created everything that exists (Genesis 1:1-27), therefore it all belongs to Him. This is not tyrannical, this is basic sense: When you create something you own it -- Artists own the paintings they make, authors own the literature they write, and musicians own the arrangements they compose. Likewise, since God created everything in the universe, that means He actually owns it, meaning He is sovereign over it.

This incident in Eden caused a direct challenge to His right to sovereignty, and this challenge did not go unseen; the Bible states that the angels were already in existence when the world was being created (Job 38:4-7). This means that this challenge was made not only in front of God, His Son, Satan, and the two humans -- this challenge was made in front of the entire heavenly host as well! Since there are many legions of angels in existence (2 Kings 6:17, Matthew 26:53), there was a throng of witnesses to these events.

Because this situation was so universal there was the possibility of God's sovereignty being challenged repeatedly if He didn't get this matter resolved. Killing Adam and Eve immediately wouldn't have resolved the matter because He already commanded them to fill the Earth with people (Genesis 1:28), and to kill them immediately would be breaking His own command. Instead, he came up with a better solution:

1. Prevent Adam and Eve from gaining access to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22-23), thereby preventing them from living forever, causing it so that they would eventually die, as was the prescribed sentence for the crime. (Genesis 2:17). This would fulfill the consequences while giving them time to fulfill the command to procreate.

2. Since Adam and Eve now knew the difference between good and evil (Genesis 3:22, the first line of the verse), God would allow humankind a set amount of time, a very generous amount of time, to prove whether they could successfully govern themselves without His guidance. It makes sense that He would allow a very generous amount of time, probably so that nobody could accuse Him of not having given enough time for the trial.

Although Scripture does not tell the exact date that this trial period expires, Jesus Christ gave us the clues to know when that time period is nearing its end (Matthew 24:3-42).

IMMEDIATE REPERCUSSIONS

As most Bible readers know, the immediate repercussions for Adam and Eve were pain in childbirth (Genesis 3:16), hardship in raising crops (Genesis 3:17-18), banishment from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23), and of course, eventual death (Genesis 3:19). However, that was just the very beginning of mankind's troubles.

LATER REPERCUSSIONS

The later repercussions became apparent early on, primarily because mankind was no longer in direct communion with God. Without God's direct guidance things got out of hand very quickly. For starters, their firstborn son, Cain, their latter born son, Abel (Genesis 4:3-11). It wasn't too long afterward when anarchy developed: Many of the angels came down to marry the human women (Genesis 6:2), causing a superbreed of humans that wrecked havoc throughout the Earth (Genesis 6:4-7). Apparently these Angels and their offspring had interfered so much that God sought to erase the whole mess and start all over again (Genesis 6:1-7). Why? Because these fallen angels were interfering on an enormous scale: it wasn't a fair contest for humankind. Therefore, God saved the only family that remained faithful to Him (Genesis 6:8-22), and imprisoned the angels who had interfered during this time period (1 Peter 3:18-19).

After God wiped out this massive interference Noah and his family were blessed by God and commanded to procreate (Genesis 9:1). God's plan was not to be stymied.

HUMAN BASED SOVEREIGNTY

Because God is allowing mankind to prove itself on this issue He allows the governments we create to exist. This is why the Bible tells us that our governments are ordained by God (Romans 13:1). This is also why Scripture instructs us to honour and obey our governments, pay our taxes, and not resist our leaders (Romans 13:3-7) (The only exception to this is if our leaders instruct us to do something against God -- Acts 5:28-29). Basically, God is requiring us to play fair with our governments in order to give an honest accounting of human-based rulership. To resist this arrangement is the same as resisting God Himself (Romans 13:2).

As we have seen throughout history mankind has been free to try every kind of government there could be: Anarchy, monarchy, oligarchy, communism, tribalism, socialism, religion, democracy, empires, sultanates, and so on. We've been free to create pacts, treaties, organizations, unions, and alliances. Is there any form of government that hasn't yet been tried? The only one left is the future government to come in the End Times (Please see subheading "End Times Antichrist on the essay here) Otherwise, we've done it all – every style of government has been tried! And most are currently still being tried, tweaked, and tried again!

How have we fared?

HUMAN REPERCUSSIONS

Clearly, we have not been able to rule ourselves as well as God can. Except for the pain of natural death, all other misery in the world is caused by human rulership, especially in matters of money (1 Timothy 6:10).

Money is one of the most evil inventions of human government, and love of money is The Devil's playground: Money leads to greed, pride, corruption, bribes, and bad decisions. Money causes health care research to be sidelined in favour of weapons, warfare, power and pork barrel projects. Money is the reason for inflation, recessions, depressions, and economic hardships. Money is the reason for poverty, addictions, gambling, and starvation. Money leads to divorces, suicides, murders, theft and prostitution. Of all the evil in the world, mankind's money can usually be traced to it. Yet mankind is loathe to let go of it (Joshua 7:20-21, Matthew 19:21-23, Acts 5:1-10). This is the most prominent problem with mankind's self-sovereignty. And it is this self-sovereignty that created the money in the first place.

Our misery isn't because God is absent or doesn't care; it's because our shot at self-sovereignty is still playing out. He must let us continue to make our mistakes in self-government without His interference, otherwise it isn't proving we can do it on our own and without His guidance.

How much longer must this trial continue? Hasn't humankind been through enough by now?

Not quite yet. The trial for self-sovereignty isn't finished until we're on the final brink of self destruction (Matthew 24:21-22). The final, undeniable, proof that we need Him will be the total, irreversible collapse of our global system. To cut the trial any shorter would open Him up to accusations of not having given enough time, with the reasoning that perhaps humankind would have had a success at the last moment. In order to put that reasoning to rest, we must see this through to the bitter end.

 

GOD'S OPEN DOOR

Although God is allowing our trial period, He is not callously ignoring us in the process.

Jesus Christ tells us that, even as an insignificant sparrow is important to the Father, so we are so much more important to God. God even knows the number of hairs on our heads! (Matthew 10:29-31) Jesus also tells us that God will feed us, clothe us, and look after us so long as we seek Him and His Kingdom above all else (Matthew 6:25-33). This does not sound like a distant, careless God, does it?

It is also important to note that, throughout Scripture, when bad things happened to people, God continued to assist those who looked to Him for help (Joshua 2:12-14 with 6:17-25, 1 Kings 17:1-6, Daniel 3:17-27, Daniel 6:16-22, Acts 5:19-20, Acts 28:3-5, etc.).

As Scripture shows , God has not been standing aloof on the sidelines buffing His nails and whistling a tune. Although He is obligated to let this trial stand in regard to human sovereignty, He is still ready to stand with us and for us when we look to Him (Romans 8:31).

CONCLUDING COMMENTS

So, in essence, God does exist and He does care. However, He is carefully ensuring that He isn't tampering with human sovereignty in order to give us a fair shot at it. This issue needs to be resolved once and for all so that it is settled universally. In spite of this trial period God continues to make Himself available to everyone who looks to Him for help and guidance.

It is painfully apparent that we humans absolutely need God's sovereignty in our lives. May we endure in His Grace until His Kingdom comes (Daniel 2:44, Matthew 25:34). God Bless.