The above question is one that I have been asked many times over the years.
Both in Clinical practice & ministry.
What about you my friend, have you ever pondered that question?
I’m sure it’s one that comes to us all when we see the suffering in this world & especially when our loved ones are suffering.
I have recently pondered the answer to this question anew.
In a recent journey with two of my loved ones with their declining health.
One has now passed from this life into glory & the other is heading towards the gates of eternity.
Before we begin today, let’s grab our cuppa’s & get comfy as this is an important topic for our reflection.
Omnipotence, Omniscience & Omnipresence
When I was a freshman at Bible College, decades ago, some of the first lessons that year were on the Omni attributes of God.
Omni means; in all ways, in all places, at all times
We studied how God is Omnipotent, meaning all powerful.
We studied that He is Omniscient, meaning all knowing.
And we studied that He is Omnipresent, meaning always present.
I knew these attributes before entering Bible College but hadn’t known that there were specific words for them.
Then the following question arose;
If God is all powerful, why does He allow suffering?
Was the question posed to our lecturer that day by one of our bolder classmates.
One that the lecturer, our Principal, answered with a challenge.
Maybe previous students had asked the same question.
Or because of his wisdom & insight through his own experience of suffering.
In his wisdom our Principal challenged us to seek the answer from God.
A wise man!
For he knew that in seeking God & His Word for the answer would lay a solid foundation for our continuing personal growth in our relationship with Him & His Word.
So let us explore what I discovered.
God is Love
Scripture tells us that God is love,
‘And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.‘
1 John 4:16 Ref
And the question arises; if God is a loving God, how can He allow suffering?
This is a pivotal question for many grappling with that first leap of faith.
And truth be told when we see our loved One’s suffering, it’s a thought that can return to us, (often whispered by our enemy).
Let’s examine what suffering does on a spiritual level
The following analogy brings a greater understanding.
Did you know that Grape Vines only produce the highest quality fruit when grown in challenging conditions?
No? It’s true!
Grape vines that grow in lush conditions don’t produce quality grapes, if any at all, & often their seed is unviable!
For the Grape Vine grown in lush conditions is very comfortable knowing all its needs are meet.
It’s only on rocky, well drained soils (normally clinging to the side of a mountain) in extreme conditions do Vines produce the best quality fruit & most viable seed.
It’s the same with us, the highest spiritual fruit comes through rocky times.
It’s when the struggles we are experiencing feel as though we’re clinging to the side of the mountain, weathering extreme life conditions, do we see our need for God.
During these times we see that Jesus indeed is the Son of God, our Saviour.
We come to know that when we accept Him we become His branches on the Vine.
“I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.”
John 15: 5 Refer 2
Jesus being that Vine is our solid root on the rocky mountain of life’s difficulties & suffering!
Thus, if He is the Vine & we are the branches He is ever present in our struggles.
We also see that He is all knowing, for He knows the struggle we are experiencing & the plans He has for us in a future full of hope that He has promised.
For the Vine feels what the branches are experiencing as the branches are attached to the Vine.
The Vine also has the only power to deliver the spiritual nutrients that its branches need.
The nutrients that will produce the highest quality fruit for His Kingdom.
Let’s make this personal
During the many challenges & suffering I have faced over my lifetime.
In the deaths of two of my children, the death of my late husband to brain cancer, the last 17 years of Chronic Health conditions (one being chronic pain from Fibromyalgia).
And in this present time in journeying with my dear loved Ones through their deteriorating health.
I have experienced God’s presence, empowering & knowledge within the challenges & suffering.
For He knows exactly what I’m going through.
He also knows what fruit has already & will be produced from this time.
Even in these present sufferings I have seen Him work in these dear loved One’s lives.
He has been ever present with them in their suffering, bringing both of these dear loved ones to Himself for eternal life.
And I have seen a family that once had estrangement within its ranks.
Communicate with each other on a regular basis in their common love for these dear loved ones.
The eternal fruit has already appeared, some has been harvested & other bunches are beginning to ripen.
In our finite perspective of suffering we don’t always see the infinite fruit being produced for Eternity.
Thus we need to remember that God is ever present, all powerful & all knowing in all our suffering.
For He has said,
“I will never leave you, nor under any circumstances desert you,
nor give you up, nor leave you without support,
nor will I in any degree leave you helpless,
nor forsake you or let you down
or relax my hold on you, Assuredly not!”
Hebrews 5:13 Refer 2
Until next time,
You’re most welcome to join me in The Reading Nook
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