Sunday, February 24, 2008

Would a Loving God Allow Suffering?

James Leonard (his wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with colon cancer 6 months after they got married)
Acts 27:15-38

All of us at some point have asked - why God? Elizabeth's brother was killed in an auto accident shortly after high school grad. James's sister died under similar conditions.

The Book of Acts records people responding. Many of them responded to the gospel because they saw how Christians responded to suffering.

Luke is a great writer and evangelist. A Greek that uses Greek storytelling methods.
3 points
1. How to respond to suffering.
Stoic philosophers believed everything is fate. Epecurians say everything is decided by your actions. Stoics embrace suffering. Eps avoid suffering as much as they can.
Neither view is right. Paul says 2 things: Keep courage, God is in control but we have a responsibility to respond to God. Don't embrace suffering. Don't avoid suffering.
During every Alpha course here at the church, someone comes up and says I can't believe in God because of all the suffering in this world. The flaw in this argument is: If God is big enough to control the suffering, He is also big enough to know more than we do.
We have a stupid cat. We keep him because we love him. We have a 44 oz brain. We think we can understand everything? We tell a 3 year child to buckle up- because we said so. He is having a fun time jumping up and down and we spoil the fun. Try to explain why he has to buckle up- he won't understand.

2. How do we respond? God is absolutely in charge. Even though he is not the author of suffering he uses it for His benefit. Paul had gone through storms before. He is one of God's key people. Jesus said in Luke 21, you will not lose a hair but you may loose your life. Have complete confidence in God.

3. Paul knew he was a Christian. He was secure in God's love. That is our opportunity to witness.
Alpha group helps people connect and make friends. God is good to you in the midst of our storms. God lost his son in a storm. Because He loves us.
God is right there in the midst of our storms. He uses suffering to make us people of substance. God is with us in our deepest suffering. God loves us.

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