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You don't have to look very hard or very far to see that it's not a perfect world. Sickness, crime, war, death, tragedy, disappointment, pain, and injustice are everywhere. Where is God? This article will be taking a stab at explaining the unexplainable by asking some of the hardest questions man has ever uttered. The questions may never be answered to the final satisfaction of the suffering; but I ask you to thoughtfully consider the Biblical answers given to this question of the ages.

The world is fallen due to human sin

When God created the world, He made it perfect. It was without disease, death, sin, or suffering. So, what happened? Mankind managed to mess it up with...SIN. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and brought into the world the full spectrum of troubles with which we're all familiar. Suffering is the direct result of our own sin. And not just Adam and Eve's sin -- much of the anguish of the world is the direct consequence of our own evil behavior.

So why doesn't God just do away with sin?

How much do you value human free will?

The only way that God could do away with sin, is to do away with human free will. The whole creation -- atoms, stars, gravity, plants, and animals -- all behave in perfect obedience to God's grand program except man. To man God granted something that He has given to no other part of the material creation, the ability to say, "No." It is a marvelous gift, but an awesome responsibility and potentially fatal one all at the same time.

With this gift we can tell our Creator that we love Him, or we rebel against the omnipotent Lord of all creation and hurt directly or indirectly one or more other human beings.

The lesson of Job

The book of Job, although it doesn't contain all the "answers", tells us quite a bit about this troubling matter of suffering and evil in the world. One of the important insights it gives us is that Satan is the true troubler. In the first two chapters of this Biblical book the one who inflicts the pain of suffering is revealed as Satan, the old Devil himself. It is Satan who strips Job bare of wealth and family. It is Satan that takes away Job's health. And it is Satan who works through Job's wife and friends to discourage him and afflict him mentally and spiritually.

Through his troubles Job's friends accuse him of having sinned. Sin was the only reason that they could grasp for the depth and severity of Job's disaster. "Just repent and this punishment will be taken away," they urged him.

Job, however, knowing that he had done nothing sinful to be punished, began to call upon God to "correct the mistake." He longs for a third party judge who could make things right after so terrible a "mistaken punishment" had been given to him. Job wanted to speak to God face to face and straighten the matter out.

And Job got his wish--and then wished he hadn't wished it! God came to him asking questions like:

"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding." (Job 38:4, RSV)

"Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place," (Job 38:12, RSV).

"Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?" (Job 38:33, RSV).

...In other words, "Are you God? Do you have understanding like Me? Are you not still a limited human being, and aren't you 'calling on the carpet' a being with unlimited understanding? Could you possibly understand all the things I do so well and wisely? Would you be inspecting My works for a flaw?"

Job understood God's answer clearly, and his response was, "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, `Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know." (Job 42:2,3, NIV). In other words, Job finally understood that God's reasons aren't always available for understanding -- oftentimes, they are just too far over our heads. Is it possible for mere mortals to "wrap their minds around the mind of God"? Job would shout, "No way!" Indeed, any "god" that we could possible comprehend so completely would surely not be worth worshipping.

Continue to Part 2

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