From the pen of Dr. Sam Jones
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? For centuries, Biblical scholars and religious philosophers have offered various answers to this question. In the Bible reading for today, John 9:1-10:21. Jesus’ disciples inquired, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Although it has been over 2,000 years since this question was asked by these men - it’s pertinent today. When something bad happens in our lives or society, we want to know, “Why?” We want to know, who is to blame? The disciples’ question reflects their desire to know, who is to blame for his condition?
During Jesus’ day, it was commonly supposed that sickness was a result of sin. Jesus quickly dealt with their question by saying, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned” (Jo. 9:3). This man’s blindness was not the result of something he did or thought in his mother’s womb, nor was it the result of the sin of his parents. Also, the man’s condition was not caused by God. The limited space of this newsletter doesn’t afford a complete exegesis of verse 3, but in a nutshell let me attempt to offer my understanding. God knew upon creating humans as free moral agents that they might rebel against His will. He could have made us not capable of sinning, but then we would have been robots. By creating us as free moral agents, we have the capacity to make our own decisions. Adam and Eve’s life reflects this in the garden with their encounter with the serpent (Gen. 3:1ff). Years later, the Apostle Paul affirmed in Roman 5:12, “through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” One of the explanations for suffering is because it’s one of the consequences of sin (Gen. 3:15ff).
We, the family of FHU, have witnessed the suffering of many faithful Christians over the year; yes, there have been times when I have wondered why good or innocent people suffer? There are capable men, like Drs. Gilmore, Gardner, Myers and a host of others, who can give you an answer. It’s not my intent to answer the question, but to offer a perspective on how to response when something bad happens in your life. The news we received on April 25 will forever be embedded in my mind. When the doctor informed Rhonda that she had Metastatic Triple Negative Breast Cancer and it is stage 4; we were speechless! To this day, we have never asked, “Why” but have said, “Why not?” We made the decision to think on the positive side of our situation. Yes, it’s difficult, very difficult watching the person you love suffer and slowly deteriorate. Cancer, as painful as it is, has been a gift with the following benefits. It has caused us to:
1. start and end each day stating our undying love for each other;
2. pray often throughout the day for strength to trust God and to have the strength to accept whatever His will is in our situation;
3. remain thankful and appreciative for the 40 wonderful years together (37 married) and our children, grandchildren, family and friends; and
4. live each day in hope; the expectation, we shall see each other again, because of God’s wonderful grace and mercy.
These are just a few of the benefits of the gift of suffering in our lives. May God bless each of you with a wonderful weekend - continue to read your Bible.