Last week we entered a discussion about our suffering, in 1 Peter 1: 6-7 where it talked about the meaning of God’s good plan in our suffering as children of God.
Today we are going to talk much more about suffering, a topic that is so widespread and so many aspects. There is no person in this world, regardless of their beliefs, who did not suffer. Those who suffered need to respond how they could face their suffering. Days after a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School where 26 innocent people including 20 young children aged 6-7 have been killed, New York Times printed an article written by a Catholic Pasteur titled Why, God? So many readers have quickly responded with their various thoughts and so many of them disagreed with that article – however interestingly, their disagreements were also conflicting one to another. There are three powerful doctrines that we are going to discuss today that helped us to understand and face the suffering that we experienced.
Doctrine of Creation and Fall
God created the world without suffering and death, that God finished it very good. We immediately understood that when a person aged 90 passed away peacefully, that they have completed their task in this world that it has not even been a part of God’s plan from the very beginning. God’s plan from the very beginning is shalom (peace), where is no difficulty, suffering, or even eye tears and there is no definite death. The understanding of this doctrine of creation and fall brings us to know people that have been suffering more in this world, that it is not necessarily that they will be more sinful than people that have been suffering less. That is because that these people have simply sinned. When we admitted and accepted that we have sinned in Adam and we all know that death is the consequences of sin, and sin caused sufferings in our lives – therefore we must understand that the problem in the lives of human is not caused by evil, but it is caused by goodness. Why inside this world full of sins that we can still experience goodness that can make us happy?
Doctrine of Final Judgment and Renewal
Not only there is a final judgment, but there’s also renewal or reversal from all consequences of sin. There are some people who does not believe that there is a judgment day when either Christ comes for the second time or when we die and come to see Christ – on how this loving God can punish them forever? Chapter 21 of the Book of Revelation answered this, but there are many people that do not like this teaching. But on the contrary, what happened if there is no final judgment? Therefore, how terrifying the evil that happened on us? Our lives will become difficult. What also happened if there is no final judgment for our fairness? Humans will face two responses – that they will lose all hopes due to many unfairnesses that will not end in this world, or we can revenge without judges’ intervention that we can become judges of our own. The presence of final judgment gives us hopes, that we cannot repay evil with evil, as this will be done in God’s authority. We can be merciful; therefore, they can face their final judgment should they do not repent that there will be no mercy from God.
Doctrine of Incarnation and Christ’s Redemption
This doctrine is powerful, the peak of all doctrines, as we have read in the book of Hebrew. This doctrine is also the peak of uniqueness and greatness in Christian faith for its truthfulness, God becomes human, word becomes flesh, and God’s sacrifices that become flesh, dies for us. This doctrine is also the source of strength and consolation that are enormous for the children of God – with no ends and overflows. A theologian named John Dickson once talked about “The Wound of God” and he has been asked by a young Muslim in the Q & A session, “how strange and illogical of the teachings about the creator of universe who has been defeated by its creation, that the creator of universe must come as a human dan die.” Then John Dickson replied that the young Muslim’s comment was good, smart, logical, and civilized. John Dickson feels that he does not have to respond with anything but to tell this young Muslim, “Thanks that you have mentioned the uniqueness of the Christian message clearly.”
These three powerful doctrines helped us in our difficulties and sufferings, and to become the children of God and to understand how we can live to face difficulties and sufferings. May God helps us to become the children of God, to grow and to lean more on God when we are powerless.