Have you ever asked yourself why God would allow us to suffer and experience death if He really loves us? As a youth pastor I get asked questions like this all the time. Tonight I am teaching our students about the reality of pain in life. Personally, I find this to be a sticking point in my faith and while I understand that pain and suffering are ultimately our (humankind’s) fault, I find it very difficult to wrap my head around the necessity of pain.
One point that I will address is with my students tonight is that “bad things don’t happen to good people.” Relatively speaking most of us would agree that we are generally “good people.” I mean after all, I’m not Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson, or Ted Bundy. That being said, the idea of me being a relatively good person is completely false. The problem is that as we are comparing ourselves to others, we are comparing ourselves to each other. I believe that we should be using a different scorecard to determine how “good” we actually are; and his name is Jesus. By using this ruler we are able to finally realize that we aren’t as good as we really think we are.
You see, bad things only happened to one truly “good person.” Jesus came down from Heaven to live with us and He did it without failing; ever. At the end of his earthly life Jesus was faced with persecution, pain, suffering, loneliness, and death like none of us would ever even begin to imagine. With his death on the cross even Jesus experienced true suffering.
So, why does life hurt? Why do we face pain every day? Because we deserve it.
In some weird way though God shows us grace, even in our suffering. You see, every day over 150,000 people die and that leaves the rest of us with a great amount of pain… but we don’t understand death in the way that God does.
If we believe in Jesus we know that after death we will finally be able to live eternally with God in Heaven; a place that has no pain, no suffering, no sin, no shame, no loneliness, no anxiety, no stress. To me, death seems to be a release. At the moment of death we are finally able to experience life in the way that it was always intended to be! The grace that God shows us in death is something that is difficult to understand for those left behind, but beautiful to those who are actually experiencing it.
Today, all of us are facing some sort of pain. We are all asking ourselves why God would allow all of this to happen. I think that the answer, while complex, is also very simple. Yes, life will hurt, but death will finally bring forth an end to the hurting. For the Christian, when the Lord decides it is time to call us home, death is just another way that God promises to show us love and grace in the midst of our sinfulness.