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United Methodists Overturn Ban on Homosexual Clergy

For forty years, the United Methodist Church (UMC) has banned the ordination of homosexual clergy. However, in April, the church overwhelmingly voted to overturn the ban by a landslide vote, 692 to 51 (BBC, May 2, 2024). As one UMC clergy member proudly observed following the vote, “With the approvals and acceptance of the things today...

The Band of Brothers Continues

With the Arctic on its northern border, Canada is looking into options to protect “the longest coastline in the world” (The Canadian Press, April 10, 2024). The Canadian defense strategy that originally called for conventionally powered submarines has led to further discussions centering on nuclear-powered submarines.

Three Reasons for Human Suffering

What do you learn from pain? Using John 3:16, James 4:1-2 and other Bible verses, Gerald Weston explains how the answer lies in cause and effect—and why we need God’s forgiveness and Jesus’ sacrifice in the first place.

[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

If God exists and if God is a God of love, why is there so much suffering in our world? Is He powerless to stop it? This challenge is often thrown up by atheists, agnostics, and also sincere individuals who struggle to understand. How can a loving God permit wars that kill, maim, and destroy property? Why diseases, famines, and other so-called natural disasters? Some smugly ask these questions in an attempt to dismiss God. Others sincerely look at the cruelty in the world and wonder, why? Why doesn’t a loving God stop war, disease, natural disasters, and cruelty toward women and children?

On this Tomorrow’s World program, I’ll give you three reasons why a loving God allows pain and suffering. Yes, there is great suffering found everywhere and you may personally be going through a painful trial yourself, but our Creator IS a God of love. Now stay tuned as I will be back in five seconds and give you three reasons WHY a loving God allows such great suffering on this troubled planet.

If God Is Real…

A warm welcome to all of you from all of us here at Tomorrow’s World, where we fearlessly take on the hard questions and tell you the plain truth straight from the pages of the Bible. Atheists and agnostics think they have the perfect argument against God’s existence, when they ask. “How can there be a loving God when children are abused, women are raped, people die from excruciatingly painful diseases, and innocent people are displaced and killed in war?” There are answers and I’ll give you three of them today, but there are two aspects to this question:

#1: Does God exist?

And, number two, if He does,

#2: Is He truly a God of Love?

Please bear with me as I address the question of God’s existence. Frankly, dear friends, that is not as difficult as some make it out to be. It comes down to this: Either the vast universe and life on this planet is the result of blind chance, or it is the result of an intelligent Designer, in other words, God. Setting aside the huge question of how the universe came to be, let me get to the crux of this issue of life itself. Could life arise from non-living matter by chance? Evolutionist Bill Bryson addresses the unlikelihood of life arising as a result of chance when discussing proteins—the building blocks of cellular life. As all knowledgeable people know, proteins are made up of long strings of amino acids connected in precise meaningful ways—similar to the way letters form sentences. You cannot throw vowels and consonants randomly together and form meaningful sentences. Nor can you throw amino acids together randomly and form functioning proteins. As an example, Bryson speaks of the most common protein found in all of us—collagen:

But to make collagen, you need to arrange 1,055 amino acids in precisely the right sequence. But – and here’s an obvious but crucial point – you don’t make it. It makes itself, spontaneously, without direction, and this is where the unlikelihoods come in. The chances of a 1,055 sequence molecule like collagen spontaneously self-assembling are, frankly, nil. It just isn’t going to happen (Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything, p. 288).

What an amazing admission! But collagen is only one protein needed for life. As Bryson points out:

No one really knows, but there may be as many as a million types of protein in the human body, and each one is a little miracle. By all the laws of probability proteins shouldn’t exist (ibid.).

Now, why does he call them little miracles? And why shouldn’t they exist? Bryson explains the laws of probability and points out that the odds of a more typical 200 amino acid protein self-assembling is 1 in 10260. That is a single chance in 1 followed by 260 zeros! About which Bryson states:

That in itself is a larger number than all the atoms in the universe (ibid.).

Think about that! This is only one typical protein, of which there may be as many as one million different types in the human body. If the odds are so great for forming a protein made up of 200 amino acids, what are the odds for collagen?

But my favorite Bryson quote comes from his book The Body, in which he explains:

You could call together all the brainiest people who are alive now or have ever lived and endow them with the complete sum of human knowledge, and they could not between them make a single living cell, never mind a replicant Benedict Cumberbatch [a British actor] (Bryson, The Body, p. 4).

Who is it now who believes in miracles?

Bryson’s comments mirror those of Michael Denton, PhD in biochemistry. We often hear the term “simple cell” thrown about. Here is what this biochemist says about that so-called simple cell:

The complexity of the simplest known type of cell is so great that it is impossible to accept that such an object could have been thrown together suddenly by some kind of freakish, vastly improbable, event. Such an occurrence would be indistinguishable from a miracle (Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, p. 264).

He explains what many scientists are coming to understand and why former evolutionists are changing their minds on the subject.

Although the tiniest bacterial cells are incredibly small… each is in effect a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery… far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world (Denton, p. 250).

The evidence for intelligence—that is God—as the cause of life is massively compelling for anyone willing to look at the facts. So, why do we have terrible suffering in our world? If God is all-powerful, why CAN’T He, or why WON’T He, put an end to all the awful suffering that is here on this earth?

Humanity Both Victim and Perpetrator

The answer IS NOT that God does not exist. It IS NOT that He is too weak. And it IS NOT that He does not care.

No, God exists. He is all powerful. And He truly IS a God of love and compassion, but again, we wonder: “If God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” that we might have life, WHY does He allow war, children to be abducted, women to be raped, and people to die from long-lasting and painful diseases?

Let’s ask a relevant question: Are we looking in the wrong direction by placing blame on God? The answer is, yes. So, the first reason for suffering here on earth is:

#1: We are doing it to ourselves.

Consider this. A teenage boy is told by his parents not to smoke, as smoking can cause lung cancer, oral cancers, heart disease, emphysema, and a host of other maladies. His parents dearly love him and don’t want him to hurt himself, but as with so many teens, he rejects his parent’s loving advice and chooses rather to follow his friends and his own judgment. He takes up smoking, or more likely today, vaping. Of course, he doesn’t think HE will be addicted, nor suffer the consequences he’s warned about. No, he thinks he’s the exception. But 35 years later he comes down with lung cancer and his life, his hopes, and his dreams, are cut short by a long, painful death. Whose fault is it? His parents? No, they did everything they could reasonably do to prevent him from picking up the dangerous habit.

Is it God’s fault? Why blame Him when God commanded him to obey his parents? And note this additional warning to everyone not to trust one’s own heart:

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12).

That’s from Proverbs 14:12, and the warning is so important that it’s repeated in chapter 16, verse 25. Can we not make the rational judgment that it is his own fault? Even though he was warned by parents, God, the Surgeon General, and probably numerous others, the immediate pleasure of fitting in with his peers was more important than what MIGHT happen decades later.

Trusting our own ways, what SEEMS right in our own eyes, and short-sightedness, have been man’s problem from the beginning. However, the problem does go deeper than that. When God created the first man and woman, he placed them in a beautiful garden filled with the most delicious organic fruits and vegetables that one could ever imagine. In this garden, He planted two special trees. We read of them in Genesis 2, verse 9:

And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9).

These two trees were symbolic. To eat of the tree of life was the choice to trust God for determining right and wrong, and to live accordingly. But, to take of the other tree was an act of rebellion against God’s rule, symbolizing man choosing for himself to determine good and evil. We are not animals that act according to instinct. God made us free moral agents. We must make moral choices and His laws reveal which choices are right. And He informs us that there are consequences for our decisions. Deuteronomy the thirtieth chapter in verse 19 tells us:

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live (Deuteronomy 30:19).

There was no ambiguity here: blessings and life on one side, curses and death on the other. So why do we blame God for the choices that we freely make? Just as with a rebellious teenage son, we think we know better. We think God is keeping something good from us because there is a temporary benefit. For the teenager, the vanity of being accepted and looking good in the eyes of his friends, seems worth taking a risk on something that may or may not happen in the future.

Freedom to Choose Between Right and Wrong

To anyone with an objective mind, the blame for our pain and suffering is our own, not God’s. He made us free moral agents and leaves it up to us to choose. Still, people argue, “An all-powerful loving God should stop it.” Now, let us consider how God would stop us from making bad decisions and suffering the consequences of them.

God would have to take away free moral agency. In effect, He would have to force us to make right choices. But our first parents said, by rebelling against God and taking of the forbidden tree, “God, stay out of our business. Don’t tell us what to do. We want to do our own thing.” And if we’re honest with ourselves, we must admit we are no different. Yes, we may rationalize that we are different, but we deceive ourselves, as Jeremiah told us in the seventeenth chapter, verse 9:

The heart [that is, the mind of man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9).

Wars are fought between nations, between neighbors, and even in homes between husbands and wives. Whether it is domestic violence or whether it is one nation warring against another, the result is pain and sorrow.

When there is conflict between individuals or nations, there are causes, and one cause is revealed in James the fourth chapter, verses 1 and 2:

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war (James 4:1–2).

Selfish desire, lust, and greed end in conflict, but we learn elsewhere another cause of conflict, and that is human pride. Notice these Proverbs:

By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom (Proverbs 13:10).

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).

He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the LORD will be prospered (Proverbs 28:25).

As we see, human nature involves lust, greed, pride, and selfish desire. To put it another way, we want what we want and dismiss God’s law of outgoing concern.

Correction for a Purpose

As explained earlier, rather than blaming God, reason #1 is:

#1: We are doing it to ourselves.

Blaming God is easy, but it’s wrong-headed. Most of our trials are a direct result of our own actions. How can one blame God for lung cancer if we refuse to heed the warnings? The same can be said for wars, accidents, and injuries. Don’t blame God. The fault is with human beings! But there are other reasons for suffering, as well;

#2: God is a loving parent who occasionally punishes us for our good.

Not only has God put in place natural consequences for disobedience, but He also steps in as a loving parent to remind us when we go astray. This is explained in Hebrews the twelfth chapter, beginning in verse 5:

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “MY SON, DO NOT DESPISE THE CHASTENING OF THE LORD, NOR BE DISCOURAGED WHEN YOU ARE REBUKED BY HIM; FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS, AND SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons (Hebrews 12:5–8).

God is looking at the long-game. Suffering, whether as a result of our own foolishness, that of others, or discipline from God, produces character needed to be in God’s family. As we read in Hebrews 12:11,

Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).

And this brings me to the most important reason for human suffering.

#3: God desires for us to live forever in His Kingdom as His children.

Most people have no idea WHY God created us. To them, we are here to cram into life as much happiness, fun, and success as possible before we die. They see this life as the dessert, and anything that comes later as the broccoli. Few understand what is at stake: a few years on earth, or life for eternity. And what kind of eternity? The Bible is clear. Scripture after Scripture speaks of us becoming children of God. The Apostle Paul even calls us “joint heirs with Christ”—notice Romans the eighth chapter, verses 14–17:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, [now notice this] if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together (Romans 8:14–17).

This is the context in which he puts in perspective the temporary suffering that comes with this life. Continuing in verse 18:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:18–21).

In light of this, consider the common refrain “no pain, no gain.”

Yes, this temporary existence with all its trials, no matter how severe they may be, is nothing in comparison to what the future holds for those who learn to put God first. This is why Paul also said,

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

There is much suffering in our world—some excruciating and long-lasting—but blaming God is wrong-headed. He has given us free moral agency to make decisions. Most of the heartache we suffer is the result of bad decisions. Sometimes, it is the decision of others that cause us grief, but much of the time it’s our own. Some suffering is a direct result of God stepping in as a loving parent to let us know that we are on the wrong track. He wants us to succeed. He wants us to be in His Kingdom. A few years of pain now can yield a far greater reward. As it tells us in Psalm 16:11:

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

All suffering must be understood in the context of John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

I hope you profited from this video.

If you found it helpful and want to learn more, be sure to get your free study guide on John 3:16 by clicking the link in the description or go to TWTV.ORG/John316.

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Thanks for watching! See you next time.

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Editor in Chief: Gerald E. Weston

Tomorrow’s World is a magazine of prophetic understanding, helping to shine the light of Bible prophecy on the often-disturbing events and developments that are shaping society and our entire world. Will you heed the watchman’s warning and learn to see where these prophetic trends are leading?

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