March 2, 2020
This year, during the months of February and March, dozens of evangelical churches in the South Florida area are participating in an initiative called “Explore God Miami.” These churches across South Florida are participating in discussion groups and a sermon series which tackles all the big questions about God. This past week at Christ Journey Church, Pastor Bill White spoke on the topic of, “Why does God allow pain and suffering?” His conclusion, according to God’s Word, is that God allows suffering to authenticate the love and freedom that only He can give. I Peter 1;6-7, “…now for a little while, you had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials…so that your faith…may be proved genuine.”
The Bible relates a story of a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” John 9:2. Jesus response is an insight to how we can view the “bad” things that happen to us in this life. Jesus said, “Neither his parents nor he sinned, this happened to him so that the work of God might be displayed in his life,” John 9:2. The world always thinks this way. If someone experiences a tragedy or an unexpected sickness, surely it is because of something they have done to deserve it. But according to Jesus, God can work and He can receive glory in the most dire of circumstances we can experience.
Many years ago, my wife and I were summoned to her doctor’s office. The doctor began the meeting with the words, “I’m sorry, but I have some very bad news for you,” and he went on to reveal to us that Katie had been diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer that had to be addressed immediately. We were in shock and certainly cried out to God, why he would allow this to happen? What about our sons? What about our future plans?, What about our ministry at FCS? We were referred to an oncologist and three days later she underwent successful surgery to eliminate the cancer.
Following the surgery Katie went through aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatment. During these treatments Katie had the opportunity to talk to the young nurse who administered the chemotherapy. Several years later he and his wife came to FCS, and Katie and I took them on a personal tour and talked to them about how FCS might benefit their children. They chose to enroll their children the next year in our pre-school. This year both Eric and Madison Estape will graduate high school from FCS.
Several years ago, Mrs. Estape, now a faculty member at FCS, approached me and said, “Dr. Andrews, I know why Mrs. Andrews had cancer.” As you can imagine, I wasn’t quite sure what to say. She explained that when they brought their children to FCS her husband had never made a decision to accept Jesus as his Savior. She went on to say that when her husband met Katie during the chemo treatments, and then was introduced to FCS, it led to her children attending the school and being under the teaching of godly faculty members who encouraged the students to go to church with their family. The influence of his children resulted in their dad not only attending church with them but led to his decision to trust Jesus as his Savior. So, her conclusion was that my Katie’s cancer led to her husband’s accepting Jesus as Savior and completing their family in Christ. At this point both of us were in tears, but they were tears of joy and rejoicing in how God can use our pain and suffering for His glory.
The truth of the Bible is that our God refuses to allow pain and suffering to have the last word. God allows our pain and suffering as a wake-up call in this life so that his glory can be revealed. C.S.Lewis said about suffering, “God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” God refuses to allow pain and suffering to have the last word. Romans 8:18 says, “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us!” “God Himself will be their God and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things is passed away.” So our conclusion is that “God is the answer” to every circumstance in our lives, including the pain and suffering we experience, so that He can be glorified and others will be drawn to Jesus!