“Why does God permit His righteous children to suffer?”
There has been no greater question asked in the heart and mind of true believers throughout the history of the church than this.
This question goes as far back as the book of Job in the Old Testament. Asaph raised this question in Psalm 73 – “Why do the wicked seem to prosper and the righteous suffer?” And this question is carried on through the New Testament sufferings of the apostles and early believers, through the martyrdom of many in the first centuries, through the persecution in the Dark Ages, through the pain of the Reformers, through the murdered in the Communist regimes, all the way through to our brothers and sisters suffering under the hands of ISIS.
Suffering has stalked the church from the beginning of her existence until this present time!
Perhaps, right now, you feel as if suffering is stalking you and has come uninvited into your life. And with Job, Asaph, and so many other believing sufferers, you are tempted to cry out to God –
It seems like an unanswerable question. Where can we go for answers?
To unshakable truths found in the Word of God. Particularly, the end of Romans 8, where a fellow sufferer named Paul describes the groanings that we and all creation engage in. What do we say to these groanings? How do we answer questions that seem like they cannot be answered?
By asking some of our own unanswerable questions that lead to unshakable convictions.
Paul gives us five:
If God is for us, who can be against us? (31)
The answer to this question is so obvious it is left unstated – NO ONE!
Since He did not spare His Son but delivered Him to death for us, how will He not freely give us everything else we need? (32)
Answer – He will give us everything!
If He was willing to give us the major thing, then we can be confident that He will give us all the lesser things.
Who will bring any charge against those who God has chosen? (33)
Answer – it is God who justifies.
His point is that God is the only one in the universe who has the authority to condemn – and He is doing it! Romans 1:18 tells us that His wrath is coming down on men everywhere at all times. Men are not going to hell because Satan is sending them there but because the Judge of the Universe has condemned them.
But if the Only Judge of the Universe has declared these people “righteous” and has justified them, who is left to condemn them?
Conclusion – no one!
Who will condemn these whom God has justified? (34)
Answer – Christ who died and who was raised is at the right hand of God interceding for us!
There is one who constantly condemns us. He is called the accuser of the brethren. But his charge and condemnation are nullified and silenced by the presence of the Lamb that was slain and that rose and who now stands in the presence of His Father interceding for those who have been justified through His blood!
Who will separate us from the Love of Christ? (35)
Paul goes on to list out seven incredible possibilities that one might put forth as potentially separating us from Christ and shows they are powerless to do so!
- Sword (death)
Here is Paul’s answer to all of these: in all of these we overwhelmingly conquer!
And Paul could say this – he had suffered all of these things at some point in his life!
Paul reaches his climax here and says that he is “convinced.” Literally, “I have become convinced and remain so!”
What are you convinced about, Paul?
“That nothing will separate us from Christ!”
If we have been justified, then nothing can abort the process until one day we are glorified!
So, Paul concludes, “I have become convinced that the most powerful and devastating forces in the universe are not able to separate me from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus who is our Lord!
Not death…not life…not angels…not demons/principalities…nothing in the present…nothing in the future…not any ruler or authority. . .nothing in the heights…nothing in the deep…not any created thing at all!
Nothing will separate us from the Love of God!”
That’s an unshakable conviction for whatever unanswerable question life throws at us.