Suffering and God’s Plan
So often we are surprised that God “would allow” suffering, pain and death. But actually, these unpleasant realities are the promised outworking of God’s response to sin in Genesis 3. Our Creator has clearly and consistently maintained that the wages of sin is death – and all the painful corruption that goes with it. The absence of suffering and pain in a sinful world would be a legitimate cause to question the truthfulness and faithfulness of God. However, that doesn’t make it feel any better, not to mention that it leaves millions of people bristling at a God who doesn’t relieve their pains. Before you join in, remember that God’s sentence of death on humanity’s sin is a disguised opportunity for his grace. If Adam and his descendants didn’t decay and die, they would be forever separated and banished from God’s perfect fellowship and his perfect gifts. Barring the first couple from the Tree of Life was, as it turns out, an incredible act of grace. A holy God cannot engage in perfect union with fallen creatures. But in God’s plan our eventual physical death allows for a new start. God sent his Son to purchase for us the ultimate “new start” wherein we could be spiritually and, one day, physically remade without reference to sin and its affects. Because of death, and all it’s ugly and painful implications, those of us who cling to God’s redeeming grace will finally be released from the just consequences of sin and enjoy a new reality, basking in the perfection only briefly experienced in the Garden.
“The pursuit of happiness” is certainly our heart’s default position. It is our nature to want to experience feelings of pleasure, gladness and enjoyment. Unfortunately, at the present time, we live in a corrupted world, encased in corrupted bodies, pitted against a very powerful corrupted enemy bent on luring us with “harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9). And therein lies the problem with the pursuit of happiness. If we thoughtlessly follow our natural appetites we will undoubtedly fall into a snare leading to multiplied pain and misery.
However, true happiness won't come until we are with Christ. For now, the focus of our daily pursuit must not be happiness, but holiness. What if we woke up each morning and, instead of asking, “what can I do today that will make me happy?” we chose to say, “how can I be more holy today?” Holiness is a pervasive topic throughout Scripture. Unfortunately, it has fallen out of vogue with today’s culture and even the church. We have lost our drive to be holy and righteous. We have replaced sanctification with license under the guise of grace. But if we are to be true followers of Jesus, obedient to His Word, then holiness must take a primary place in our lives.
This month at Focal Point we are excited to offer a resource to help pursue holiness, it's a book by A. W. Tozer called Knowledge of the Holy. In his introduction Tozer writes, “What comes to mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” This classic work emphasizes why it is so important we have a right understanding of God, and delves into core issues like the mercy of God, the love of God and the holiness of God.
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