Why Do Good People Suffer?

I recently had the privilege of giving an apologetics talk on the problem of evil. I was asked to address the following question.

If your Jesus is so good, then why do good people suffer, and why does sin take control of the world, and why do the elderly get sick?

The mp3 can be found here: Why Do Good People Suffer?

The following slide may be helpful as you listen to the audio.

The Problem of Evil.jpg

More from the Fight of Faith:

7 Questions to get to the Heart of Any Worldview

The New Atheism’s Leap of Faith

Defending the Resurrection of Jesus: The Core Facts Approach

 

 

Fulfill the Ministry

See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord. – Colossians 4:7

“Fulfill the Ministry.”  Paul initially said this to Archippus, but was this a warning or encouragement? Since we do not know much about him, it is hard to tell. Some have suggested that Archippus was the first pastor to the Laodicean’s. He may have been negligent in his duties, to which Paul would have been admonishing him by saying, “Get to work and do what you are supposed to do.” He also may have been faithful to his call but in a difficult place. Paul may have been encouraging him by saying, “press on in your good work, the Lord sees and will reward.”

Regardless as to whether this was a warning or an encouragement, these words apply to every believer. God has called us all to bring Him glory with our lives. This command applies to whatever vocation He has called us, as we live as ambassadors for Him in this fallen world. We are to work heartily as unto the Lord. Never go back to working for riches, popularity, fame, or even personal peace. Fulfill what He has called you to do for the Kingdom of God. Bring Him glory in all of it.

Maybe the Lord is calling you to a particular ministry that you have been resisting. Fulfill the ministry. Perhaps you have been doing what you have been called to do, but the things of the world are starting to catch your eye. Fulfill the ministry. Perhaps the Lord called you to a specific ministry, and you have been diligent in doing it, but now you are growing weary in well doing. Fulfill the ministry.

There is so much more for us than we can see. Never forget that you have been raised with Christ, your life is hidden in Christ, and glory will be experienced at His return. Work heartily as unto the Lord. Remember, we do not live to please men. Christ is preeminent, not them. Live for His glory. Do it heartily, not grudgingly. Know why it is important and work hard to get it done. Whatever you do, redeem the time for the days are evil. Work should be work as unto the Lord, recreation should be recreation unto the Lord, and rest should be rest unto the Lord.

Wherever you may be today, may the Lord use this short devotion to encourage you to press on. May it remind you that this world is fleeting and our time is short. May it remind you to make sure this day is dedicated to your Savior, for tomorrow is promised to no one. Most importantly remember that He is with you and will give you the strength you need to fulfill the ministry.

D. Eaton

When God Hinders You From Doing His Will

When the dark skies rolled in, there was one thing that confused me more than any other. Before the storm, I was at a point where I wanted to give my all to the Lord. I started praying that he would fill me with His Spirit and make me a man after His heart. I was ready to go into all the world and make disciples, and to some degree, I was doing it.

Then the thunder started to roll, and the lightning struck, and I was held back from doing what I wanted to do for Him. When it hit my life, it became evident that this was going to be long-term. After an extended period of questioning and evaluation, I came to the biblical conclusion that God was sovereign over all of it. Did God know that this storm was going to hit my life? The only biblical answer to that is, yes. Did He have the power to stop it if He wanted to? Again, the only possible answer was, yes. Had He stopped it? No. The one truth that could logically follow from these questions was that God was sovereign over everything that came into my life. It does not matter if you want to say that God allows it, or brings it, into our lives. The logical conclusion is that God is the final decision-maker of everything we will face.

On one level this is a tremendous comfort. There are no mistakes that happen to us. Everything is within His control, but here is what sent me reeling. I was trying to do what He has called us to do, and the storm he allowed/sent was hindering me from doing it. I could understand that trials come to produce endurance, character, and hope (Rom. 5:4), but in my mind, all of that was to help us do His will. So why would these trials limit me in doing those very things?

I think I first saw it in the life of Job. As I read through Job chapters 25-28, it became clear that before Job was afflicted, he did quite a bit to help the poor and take care of the fatherless. He incontestably lived in a way that was glorifying to God. In fact, God commends him to Satan because of his faithfulness. Then, when tragedy struck, he was no longer able to be that man of good works. It became so bad that those who used to look to him for help began to look down upon him because of his affliction.

The problem was that Job did not give me perfect clarity on the issue, though it did open me to the idea that sometimes God is accomplishing something bigger than what our good works could have achieved. It is much like when God calls us to tend the ground but curses it with thorns to make it more difficult. As Romans 8:20 says, He subjected creation to futility in hope. Those last two words, “in hope” make all the difference, and God does not hope the same way we do. His “hopes” always come to pass. As we work, something He has called to do, He wants us to experience futility (thorns) and He does it as part of His good plan.

Then another passage of scripture clicked into place in a way I had never noticed before. Paul was given a thorn in the flesh. A messenger of Satan to buffet him. Who gave it to him? It was clearly a messenger of Satan, but God was still the final decision-maker. God had given him the thorn in the flesh. First, God called Paul to be a missionary of the Gospel and then gave him an adversity to buffet that work.

There it was. God gave Paul something that limited his ability, for the sole purpose that he could accomplish more. Without this thorn in the flesh, Paul would have grown conceited. He would have been working in the power of his flesh, which was exactly where the barb was placed. Now he saw his weakness, and it was in his weakness that God’s strength was made perfect.

When the thought crosses your mind, that if you did not have to face a certain affliction, you would be able to accomplish much more for the Lord, think again. You may be accomplishing more in your fleshly inability. Job was unable for a time to help those in need, but how many of us has he helped in our moment of need with his answers to his friend’s accusations. His time of limitation was written into God’s eternal word to guide His people. Paul might have been held back in his strength, but now he moved forward in God’s. What Paul accomplished could not have been done in any other way.

Like Jacob, you may have wrestled with God and because of it you now walk with a limp, but is that limp what the Lord now uses, or plans to use, to speak deep into the hearts of people with whom you come in contact? God usually uses shaky voices to resonate His truth deep into the hearts of the hearers. When God sends us limitations, they never limit His ability to work through us. The Lord may be hindering you for the very purpose of helping you advance His kingdom.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

D. Eaton

 

How To Win The Day After A Fall

“When you fall into the mire, be ashamed and be humbled, but return and wash in the open fountain, and return and beg for new strength to walk more surely. Learn to trust yourself less and God more, and take action against your enemies.. . ..Do not imagine that your little is enough, or despair because you cannot do more, but ‘press on toward the goal to win the prize.’ Do not think everything is lost because you are presently foiled. The experienced soldier knows that he will often win the day after a fall or the day after he has been wounded. Be assured of this, after a short battle follows an eternity of triumph.”

–Robert Leighton, Commentary on 1 Peter

When Pressing On Means Giving Up

I could hear the voices whispering, “Persevere, Don’t give up, You need to press on.” The only problem was I was fairly certain these were the voices of the enemy. I was torn because persistence is something to honor. A sense of despondency and joy burned within me at the thought of giving up several lifelong pursuits.

I knew it was the right thing to do. I needed to say goodbye to what I loved, because what I loved was toxic. It was like a destructive friendship. Friendships are to be cherished, and it always seems wrong to dissolve them, but when they are harmful, the appropriate thing to do is to bring them to an end.

I realized I had a long and unhealthy relationship with the world.  I loved it and was attempting to stake my claim and find my refuge in its kingdom. The revelation that these dark skies have open to me is that the things of the world can neither protect nor satisfy.

Faith has been awakened, and it is pointing my mind to things above.  I know at this point the way to press on is to bring all these worldly pursuits to a close.  I must say goodbye to these lifelong loves, and deep inside I can feel the heartache that will ensue. If left to myself, I will not have the strength to do it.  I will run back into their arms like a lonely man returning to an abusive lover.

I will persevere though, not because I have it in me, but because I am starting to realize that true perseverance in the things of God is not of myself.  I am, as Peter once said, being kept by the power of God through faith.  Christ Jesus has begun a work He has promised to complete. I know my old nature will not give up easily, and it may win a few battles as I am being conformed to His image, but I will press on, because He has promised to never lose His child.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. – 1 John 2:15

D. Eaton

The Fight of Faith

Fight of Faith Logo

The sky has turned dark.  It has not always been this way, but now it is frightening.  Not long ago it was bright and sunny as was the disposition of my heart, but now the thunder crashes are similar to the war drums of an enemy telling me that I will never survive. When the skies were clear, I always imagined that I had the strength to handle whatever would come my way, but now as I stand here, I realize how weak I am compared to the power of this storm.

Somehow the darkness that has surrounded me has begun to make its way into my soul. The doubts, confusions, and fears continue to whisper to me, and they seem to be penetrating deep into my heart. It even has a way of making the easiest tasks of the day seem burdensome. Deep inside me, it has revealed the truth that I am no match for what I am facing, and to crown its victory, it declares my sinfulness by reminding me of my many failures.

That is not all that is being revealed, something deeper still has begun to stir. Something that is turning my eyes away from the ephemeral and started to focus my attention on what endures. I realize that it was there even before the skies turned, but I am only now beginning to see its power. It has gripped me and will not let go. It is something that was born within by a power not my own, which is what gives it a life of its own. It has been said that those born in this way will overcome the world, and what is this victory that overcomes the world – our faith.

It often takes a storm more powerful than I am before I reach out for the Hand that is more powerful than the storm, and though the tempest remembers my transgressions, the Hands that hold me are scarred from nail piercings that declare my forgiveness.  I still tremble, and sometimes it is difficult to tell whether it is out of fear or out of faith, but what I am beginning to see is that there is something, or should I say, Someone, greater within me than what is in the world.

One day it will all be put right, but the sky is still dark, and the storm is still raging, and when I see the things of this world which my heart still loves slipping from my grasp, the tears still sometimes well up in my eyes. Although, I’ve learned that the One who holds me is also directing the storm, so I have nothing to fear. You may not always see me holding it together, but know this, deep inside there is a battle raging to set me free from the things that still hold me captive. That battle is the fight of faith, and that battle will not be lost.

D. Eaton

The Benefits of Adversity

The Prayer
The daily battles never cease. Adversity is a companion I know too well. My strength is gone, and despair brings me low. I ask again for release from this, for I fear it will be the end of me. The enemy gathers to devour me, and their strength seems overwhelming. Lord, if it be your will, end this suffering.

The Response

Then your word rings clear. “My Grace is sufficient for you”. Three times you’ve cried for relief, because you believe this is holding you back. What you don’t see my child, is that this thorn you so much dread is one of my precious blessings which is not killing or holding you back, but spurring you on and giving you strength.

The death that you feel is the old nature dying, and though you feel held back you’re actually moving more swiftly because your focus is clear and your resolve is set on Me. Without this you would be easily distracted. Without this you would stumble in your own strength, and though Satan thinks he buffets, and your faith is being tested, I am crowning you with perseverance, character and hope.

Humility is another gift that is given though this and the broken and contrite I will never turn away. So walk on and know that I am sovereign, and embrace the benefits of this adversity. For I alone am God, and I know my children well. You will never be tested more than you can handle, and I will bring you home.

My Grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor. 12:9

-D. Eaton-

When Pain and Faith Collide

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When pain and faith collide
The one absorbs the other.
But not without an impact
That shakes us to the core.

We walk as if omnipotent
Forgetting that we’re frail.
Until that trying moment
We’re broken, hurt, and sore.

It can come in many ways,
But never goes unnoticed.
As with perfect strategy
It weakens where we’re strong.

Our thoughts become unclear
When hit while unaware.
And brings to mind our sins,
As we barely scrape along.

Then in our shaken voice
Our faith lets out a groan.
And thunders cross the heavens,
As by Him it’s supplied.

For faith is the power
That overcomes the world.
And the one absorbs the other
When pain and faith collide.

-D. Eaton