Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Lesson

3

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In August 1998, a bombing at the United States Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, left more than 200 people dead and 4,000 injured. A couple—on vacation in Africa at the time—arrived at the scene of the bombing. Amid the carnage, they noticed a car that had been destroyed in the explosions. The occupants of the car had been killed, and on the windshield of the car was a sticker that read, “God is love.” The question is often asked, “Why does God allow sin, pain and suffering?” The Bible has the answer, and it reveals that God truly is love!
 
Who is God?

He who does not love does not know God, for God is ______________.
Hint

The Bible story begins by introducing God with the words: “In the beginning God . . . ” (Genesis 1:1) He is the One who creates out of nothing and sustains all life.

God is not merely loving. He “is love.” God is “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.” (Exodus 34:6)
Hint

God’s love for the human family is unconditional. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) God’s love “does not seek its own.” His love is selfless, and is freely offered to every member of the human family.
What is the condition of our world?

And because lawlessness will , the love of many will grow cold.
Hint

The whole world is in distress, wracked by war, natural disasters, illness, disease and social problems of the most serious kind. According to the United States Bureau of Justice, more than 15,000 people are murdered every year, including more than 500 children.

Evil and pain are real. This is a hurting world.
Is God responsible for pain and evil?

“Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?” He said to them, “An has done this.”
Hint

Jesus told a parable that depicted a farmer sowing wheat in the field. As the wheat grew, weeds appeared—growing in the midst of the wheat. When asked who was responsible for evil, Jesus blamed the “enemy,” which is the devil. (Matthew 13:39)

God often gets blamed for the evil in the world—evil that is, in fact, the work of a fallen angel named Satan, the enemy of love and peace.
How is Satan working in the world today?

Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a _______________ _____________.
Hint

Knowing he has so little time left before the end of the world, Satan is now working with increased fury and intensity in an effort to cause maximum distress to the world, and maximum pain to the heart of God.
How is Satan especially targeting those people who have faith in God?

And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make ____________ with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Hint

In Bible prophecy, a woman is used to symbolically represent a church. Satan is targeting the church—God’s people—in earth’s last days as the special focus of his hate and wrath.
Hint

God didn’t create a devil. He created a perfect and beautiful angel named Lucifer (which means “Light Bearer”). But Lucifer chose to rebel against God. It was Lucifer’s own choices that alienated him from the heart of God.
What special ability has God given to His children?

for yourselves this day whom you will serve.
Hint

God extended to His created beings the special gift of freedom of choice. People are free to choose to serve God, and free to choose not to serve Him. Angels were given this same capacity. The decision to sin was a choice on the part of Lucifer, as well as on the part of Adam and Eve. We can choose to sin, or we can choose to obey God.
Hint

Remarkably, Lucifer wanted to sit in God’s place. He wanted to receive leadership, rulership and worship! Dissatisfied with his own elevated position as a covering cherub dwelling in the presence of God (Ezekiel 28:14), he rebelled against God in an attempt to receive the honor that belongs only to God.
Hint

Having been endowed by God with such wisdom and beauty, Satan sought honor for Himself rather than the honor of God. Such self-centered thinking is in direct contrast to the self-sacrificing love of the God of heaven.

A Key Principle


A key principle in understanding the fall of Satan and the spread of sin and sufering in this world is the principle of freedom of choice. God did not create Lucifer as a robot—mechanically responding to the commands of his Maker. Instead, God placed within Lucifer the ability to choose. Lucifer was at liberty to choose to love God, or to reject Him.
Tragically, he chose the latter option. But for God to refuse to give Lucifer freedom of choice would have proven God to be the tyrant many people say He is. Consistent with His character as a loving God, God gave freedom of choice to His children. In doing so, God took an enormous risk: what if one of His creatures chose to rebel? God Himself would pay the price for humanity’s choice to follow self rather than surrender.
Jesus—the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8)— would die so that human beings might live eternally. The One who has suffered the most on account of the rise of sin is God Himself!
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What was the result of Lucifer’s rebellion against God?

And broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought.
Hint

Satan’s opposition to God’s authority saw him undermine God’s leadership to the extent that a third of the heavenly angels chose to side with Satan and stand against God. (Revelation 12:4)
Where is the war between good and evil currently being played out?

So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the ______________, and his angels were cast out with him.
Hint

Planet Earth has become the epicenter of the great battle between Christ and Satan. While Satan misrepresents God on earth and tempts people to doubt the goodness and fairness of God, Jesus came to the earth to reveal to the human family the true character of God. Every person alive has the choice to accept Satan’s view of what God is like, or the view of God presented to the world by Jesus. Our choices will ultimately determine whether or not we believe God is love.
Hint

In order to know what our heavenly Father is like, all we need do is look at what Jesus was like, because He revealed the character of the Father to the world. The self-sacrificing, servant-like nature of Jesus—who “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38)—is a refection of the character of God the Father.

To make a way for sinful people to experience eternal life and recovery from the power of sin, God paid the ultimate price when He allowed Jesus to come to earth to die for us. Such a sacrifice reveals that God is not indifferent toward suffering and sin. In fact, sin has cost God far more than it will ever cost any of us!
How did human beings become involved in the sin issue troubling our world?

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and _________.
Hint

Adam and Eve’s willful disobedience of God’s express wishes caused them to lose the purity and innocence that God gave them at creation. Their sin separated them from God and brought the planet under the dominion of the “enemy”—Satan. And like our first parents, the Bible says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Like Adam and Eve, we have sinned and are under the penalty of sin—which is death. (Romans 6:23)
Hint

Such is Satan’s self-centered desire to receive worship that he eventually leads the world to the place where everyone alive makes a conscious decision for either God or Satan.
Hint

Satan’s ultimate doom is assured. He will not succeed in leading the entire planet in rebellion against God, and will himself be destroyed.
Hint

God’s promise is that He will remake this world in perfection and beauty, and it will be a world without sin and suffering. The enemy will no longer taunt and tempt, and guilt and sorrow will no longer exist!

Consider this fact: God created a perfect earth, and placed two perfect people in the midst of a sinless garden. With absolutely no reason to sin, they chose rebellion over faithfulness to God, and plunged the universe into the chaos of sin. And sin would cost God infinitely more than it would cost anyone else in existence!

Faced with the loss of His eternal Son, God made the choice to redeem sinful humanity—even though it meant Jesus would die on the cross. There has never been another demonstration of such selfless love in all of history! As the Bible says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” (John 3:16)

 
Hint

Through faith in Jesus Christ, every person may have the hope of eternal life. Jesus died to reveal the depth of the love of God for a fallen world, and in so doing, ensured the defeat of Satan and the eternal security of believers. One day, sin will no longer exist, the universe will again be safe and God alone will be worshipped.
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Are you willing to choose to have faith in Jesus, and to stand with Him in the great battle between good and evil?



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