Heaven

Why Does a Good God Allow Human Suffering?

“Good and upright is the Lord.” – Psalm 25:8

Why does a loving God allow human suffering and evil? If God is all-powerful, doesn’t he have the ability to prevent it? If the Creator truly cares, wouldn’t he bring peace upon this earth? What is the purpose of suffering, if any at all? These are all common questions that people ask, especially when they are experiencing tragedy.

When my wife was a child, she had a younger sister named Natalia. At the age of 1, it was evident something physically was wrong. Her parents went from doctor to doctor to get a diagnosis. Finally, the worst news possible: Natalia had terminal cancer.

Her parents were determined to save Natalia’s life. They tried chemotherapy, surgery, traveled to clinics around the country, but there was no remedy for this cancer. It started in the tailbone and spread to her lungs.

When Natalia began to walk, she would complain about her leg pain. She just wanted relief. My wife vividly remembers a time when Natalia said to her Mom, “I just want an injection. Can you give me an injection to relieve this pain?” Most children loathe shots, but Natalia needed it because her pain was unbearable. That same year Natalia passed away and began the journey to her heavenly home.

Stories like these are hard to hear. My wife and her family were devastated. Heartbroken. Questioning the goodness of God was a natural conversation considering their circumstances. Despite the pain, this tragedy had started a positive direction for their family.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

After the funeral, my Father-in-Law, who was an agnostic, started attending church. He had nowhere else to go. In his brokenness, the only relief was to be part of a community of believers who would pray and comfort him and his family during this ravenous storm.

My wife started going to church with her grandpa. My Mother-in-Law also began attending church. Although Natalie had passed into eternity, her influence was prevalent. This tragedy brought the entire family into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Today, my wife loves the Lord. She has helped missionaries translate the gospel from English to Ukrainian. She has counseled several women in the church. Everyday,  she teaches my two boys the importance of God’s love. For instance, our eldest son Evan is already sharing Jesus with kids he meets at the park. She has been a tremendous helper for me and a vital asset to the strength of our family.

My Father-in-Law owns a successful business. He gives employees the option of staying after work to do in-depth Bible studies with him. And yes, they get paid for being present. He has contributed greatly to their city, revamping dilapidated buildings, creating programs for youth, and teaching Bible studies at his house. He knows the Bible better than any seminary trained professor I have ever met.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4

All of us will experience tragedy at some point. It’s inevitable. When these tragedies do arise, what will your attitude be? If you become bitter and angry towards God, I can promise you, life will become a dark tunnel filled with disappointment. Bitterness always leads to the grave.

My wife’s sister Natalia was a heartbroken event. Both her laughter and tears will never be forgotten. And yes, grieving is the right attitude, but it’s not the final outcome. Natalia had a positive impact on my wife and her entire family. Her death brought brokenness, but that brokenness led the Livinyuk family to seek refuge in Christ. Praise be to God.

Are you going to Heaven or Hell?

heaven-or-hell

ABC news conducted a telephone survey in 2005 to over 1,000 adults. Of those who considered themselves “evangelical Protestants,” 94% believed they were going to heaven. A separate study was conducted, and found that less than 4% of people believed they were going to Hell.

Interestingly, these statistics are opposite of what the Bible teaches. Jesus said broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter into it, and narrow is the way that leads to life and only a few people ever find it. In Matthew 7:22, Jesus said that not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” will never the kingdom of Heaven. Many will say to Jesus on that day, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons and perform many miracles? And then Jesus will declare to them, “I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice unrighteousness.”

Think about how seemingly spiritual people can be and still not make it to heaven. They called Jesus Lord, they prophesied, casted out demons, and did many wonders in his name. These people look more spiritual than the average churchgoer, and yet they will be rejected by the one they call “Lord” to eternal damnation.

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself: Are you trying to scare me into heaven? Is this the type of message that is unloving and unkind? People say, “You shouldn’t scare people into heaven.” But think about it. Why not? We are scared into all kinds of things.

Recently, I was watching a commercial on Television. A teenage girl was driving with three of her friends. They were all laughing and having a good time. As they were stopped at a 2-way intersection, the driver got distracted and started text messaging. She didn’t realize her feet went off the pedal. Her car was in the middle of the road, and by the time the driver reacted, a truck smashed into the car. All you hear is glass shatter and then silence. Then the message comes on the screen, “Don’t text message and drive.”

Was that effective? Absolutely. For me it was. This healthy fear might make me think twice about text messaging and driving at the same time. How much more should we fear being lost in Hell forever, separated from the grace, mercy, and love of God? A Hell that is a place of eternal, conscious torment. Psalm 111 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Jesus told us in Matthew, “Do not fear the one who can only kill the body. Rather, fear God, who has the power to kill both body and soul in Hell.”

Of course, as we grow in grace, our motivation will less and less be the fear of Hell and more and more of the sheer love of God. But don’t forget that sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation, this stirring of conscience, is a gift of God and a prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Have you put your trust in Jesus? Are you certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven? If you want to learn more about how to have a relationship with God, please click here. Don’t wait until it’s too late. God bless and have a wonderful day.