“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
“You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result-the survival of many people.” (Joseph said to his brothers) Genesis 50:20
“That’s just not fair.”
“Why would God allow something like that?”
“Why do good people suffer while bad people get away with murder?”
“How can I trust God when He lets things like this happen?”
People of every generation have been asking these questions. There are all kinds of answers given, but none ever seem adequate. Especially if you are one of the victims.
We live in a world where pain and suffering is a given. Sometimes it’s self-inflicted, sometimes it’s accidental, sometimes it is a vicious consequence of wickedness, and sometimes it is the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It really doesn’t matter though…because we still ask the question, “Why me?” Suffering seems to target her victims randomly. Sometimes we think it’s deserved but most of the time it seems so unfair.
The real problem boils down to what the Bible refers to as “sin.” From the very beginning in the Garden, sin has wrecked havoc in the creation of God as well as in all relationships. The Scripture puts it this way:
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.” Romans 8:22
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
In fact, God said that sin would lead to death. (Gen 2:17; Rom 6:23) And that’s exactly what happened. When Adam and Eve sinned it immediately separated them from God and consequentially, it has separated all of their descendants. That includes you and me.
We are born into sin, separated from God, and doing the best we can to survive in this world. In our quest to survive, we reveal how self-centered we really are. We also become hardened, some more than others.
So what are we to make of suffering? What is the answer to our “why” questions? I’m not sure we’ll ever receive an adequate answer to this question while here on earth. It’s too complicated and we are so limited and finite in our ability to understand. The one thing we know is that God is able to take bad things and use them to bring about something good.
For example, the tragic and sudden death of my brother resulted in my Dad turning back to God. The horrible earthquake in Haiti has resulted in over a half million people committing their lives to Jesus Christ. Joseph’s unfair treatment by his brothers led ultimately to the preservation of the whole family. The cruel death of Jesus Christ opened the door of redemption for all of us.
As “fishers of men” we are not expected to have all the answers. We cannot deny the reality of suffering and pain in our world. But we can call men and women to turn to God in the midst of their confusion and suffering. It may be that the reason they’ve open is because they’ve hit rock bottom as a result of their suffering and have no where else to look but up. A “fisher of men” is one who is able to help that one look up.
There are many people all around you that are suffering. It’s time to do some “fishing.”