Monday, October 03, 2011

Why is God letting his servant suffer in Iran?

This came up on my facebook, an example of questioning how God can be all powerful yet not deal with evil. A friend wrote,

If God wanted to just save him from death, hey presto like, He absolutely could. So why doesn't He do just that? It's a good question, and it's a perfectly legitimate one because this is something that a lot of people ask and many will even cite as an intellectual excuse for not believing in God. If God exists and He is so powerful then why doesn't He just get rid of any and all kinds of suffering?

Your question, however, has an underlying assumption that if God existed then He would want to prevent any suffering from happen to his followers, right? I believe this underlying assumption is a faulty one. First of all, you are assuming that God can not possibly have a reason for allowing suffering to take place. Couldn't He just as easily have a specific purpose behind behind allowing it to happen in the first place, by not stopping it? It's certainly not an assumption that could be arrived at by understanding what God's purposes are that are revealed in the Bible. I don't know about you but I certainly grow and mature from suffering the consequences of my own mistakes. Secondly, you are also assuming that God does not intervene and stop suffering. Given the rather obvious history of man's inhumanity to man, I rather doubt that's true. I for one suspect that God, on a daily basis, restrains and prevents the worst excesses of mankind's propensity for inflicting suffering, but as we don't know about it, nobody's ever going to write about it.

Of course, removing God from the equation doesn't get rid of the problem of suffering, does it? You're still left with the problem that you have to explain and rationalise evil and suffering from your own worldview. It certainly blows up the progressive mantra that we're always "getting better" as a species.

Given you're world view, suffering is pointless. Yet at least with the Christian God that I know and love, He has a purpose and a point in everything He does or allows to happen to his followers. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 Sometimes He'l let us know what that purpose is, other times we may never know until we meet Him face to face in eternity. By that time, though we'll forget about asking the question because it will seem pointless - even the worst of all suffering will seem like just a bad night in a cheap hotel, compared with spending eternal life in heaven. (Revelation 21:4)

Coming back to the specific point about the Christian pastor in Iran, what could possibly be God's purpose in allowing him to go through the persecution and suffering he is undoubtedly experiencing? Well, I think it's going to be used by God to deliver a witness to other people in Iran and elsewhere around the world that are watching this. This is exactly the kind of thing that the Holy Spirit uses to convert those people that's He's going to convert. He starts by making them curious about where His courage and certainly come from, then they can't help themselves from asking more questions internally, and this will ultimately lead to many more people in Iran becoming Christians. If the Muslim authorities in Iran are trying to prevent Christianity spreading, the worst thing they could do is kill him. If history tells us anything it's that the blood of Christian martyrs is the seed of the Gospel.

My point about God showing that pastor more grace, is that if it is God's will, He will give him enough grace to sustain him through a very challenging ordeal. No matter the outcome, God's will will be done to achieve the purposes he intends, despite the evil intentions of those Muslim authorities. Yet, that also does not mean that God is making the authorities do what they are doing - God will also hold those authorities responsible and judge them for the intentions of their hearts in their actions. (Genesis 50:20)

What's also sad is that many Christians won't get what I'm saying here, just as atheists or followers of false religions. These things are spiritually discerned. Hope this helps you understand the biblical point of view at least.

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