by Kieron Rowe
Very recently, I was questioned by a self-professing atheist on the issue of suffering. He cited 9/11 as a prime example. “Where was God on 9/11? ” he asked “How can God be all-loving and let that happen?”
Just before the anniversary of this world-changing event, SBS Television aired a program in remembrance of the disaster. What truly stood out was the interviews with people involved with 9/11. Their priorities are remarkably different now to what they were before 9/11. Family and friends come before work and possessions.
Atheists often use suffering, especially unjust suffering, as their greatest argument against the God of the Bible. The Bible says that God is good. He is just. He created us and He loves us. This God is called into account. How can such a God then allow unjust suffering?
The truth is that God is a personal God, and the problem is as personal as it gets. When rebellion against God entered the world, we encountered a serious problem. The order of creation was lost, we became the masters of our destiny and we messed things up big time.
God couldn’t just let this go. He could have destroyed us, but He didn’t. God loves us so much that while we were lost in our sin, our rebellion against Him, He took on human form and died for us. (Jesus is from God, and that is why Jesus is referred to as God’s Son.) And because Jesus was from God and therefore had no sin in Him, God raised Him triumphantly from the dead three days later. And if we are willing to turn from our sin toward Jesus and His perfect sacrifice, God bestows upon us His righteousness to live a life defined by our relationship with Him rather than by our sin and the punishment we so richly deserve.
As Christians, we don’t have all the answers. But we do have a loving God and Saviour who chose to bear the greatest injustice of all to set us free. Our pains and troubles serve to remind us of our need for Him. To someone who does not know God, they are hateful. But to the Christian they are an opportunity for God to show us how much He loves us.
The death of Jesus is the ultimate unjust suffering of the innocent. And because of it, we worship Him.
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