Questions & Answers
2. If God is love and loves us so much, why does He allow suffering in the world and in our lives?
Anonymous: An important thing to remember is that God made this world to be perfect and to make all of us happy all the time. The problem is that we messed up that plan up by not paying attention to what he wanted us to do to attain that happiness. Also, he made us with power to choose whether or not to obey him and so we willfully decided not to.
A problem has resulted in which there are circumstances where people who follow the guidelines end up suffering and those who rebel end up prospering. From our vantage point, it will seem that we are playing a board game and those who cheat end up winning and those who play by the rules lose and that will seem very unfair. So all of us end up cheating a little bit which contributes an even more unfair world.
The point of Christianity is that God is just in all this and at the end those who played by the rules set out by God will gain eternal reward and those who rebelled will not gain it. It is by suffering in this world and still not cheating that we gain heaven and eternal rewards from God. If we did not suffer what do we gain from God in the end?
Dietrick Bonhoffer (From The Cost of Discipleship): "...He was despised and rejected of men, and that is an essential quality of the suffering of the cross. But this notion has ceased to be intelligible to a Christianity which can no longer see any difference between an ordinary human life and life committed to Christ. The cross means sharing the suffering of Christ to the last and to the fullest.
"Only a man thus totally committed in discipleship can experience the meaning of the cross. The cross is there, right from the beginning, he has only got to pick it up. There is no need for him to go out and look for a cross for himself… Every Christian has his own cross waiting for him, a cross destined and appointed by God. Each must endure his allotted share of suffering and rejection.... [page 98]
"The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. … we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death—we give over our lives to death. … When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. …death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old [natural self] at his call.... The wounds and scars he receives in the fray are living tokens of this participation in the cross of his Lord. 
"But there is another kind of suffering and shame which the Christian is not spared. While … only the sufferings of Christ are a means of atonement, yet…the Christian also has to undergo temptation [and] bear the sins of others; he too must bear their shame and be driven like a scapegoat from the gates of the city. (Heb. 13:12-15)
"Suffering then is the badge of true discipleship. The disciple is not above his master… If we refuse to take up our cross and submit to suffering and rejection at the hands of men, we forfeit our fellowship with Christ and have ceased to follow Him. But if we lose our lives in His service and carry our cross, we shall find our lives again in the fellowship of the cross with Christ. The opposite of discipleship is to be ashamed of Christ and His cross and all the offense which the cross brings in its train."
Jesus said, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. ... For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:34-38)
Paul wrote, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you…. if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter." (1 Peter 4:12-16)
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