This week the area where I live has been hit by storms. The have been multiple and they have been fierce. Trees have been uprooted, there has been flash flooding and for the best part of a week we have been without electricity, as have many others. This tree was in a field by the road and is one of thousands downed across the region. Not all fell in open fields and many have experienced damage to homes and property. They were powerful storms.
When I think about it, this is not too dissimilar from some of the situations that we all face. We all face storms in our life; health issues, financial stress, relationship breakdowns, etc. They can hit with such force that they can seem to uproot us and throw us aside. It’s hard for us as Christians to go through hard times especially when our theology doesn’t match our experience – that is, if God is sovereign and good, why does it feel like he isn’t in control.
The problem of suffering has been a dilemma throughout Christian history. I confess that I don’t have an answer for why bad things happen. Sometimes the storms we face are the result of how we live our lives or sometimes our genetics, but at other times they are completely random. This is point that Jesus is making in Luke 13:1-5. Sometimes we just may be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
There is a diagram that has helped me to partially come to terms with Christian suffering. One of Jesus’ key messages was the Kingdom of God. Sometimes he spoke of it as having come, sometimes as being present and sometimes as yet to come. Was he confused about his message? No, rather he understood that his birth brought the Kingdom to earth but not in its fullness. That will be reserved for his second coming. Oscar Cullman gave great image for this understanding by looking at D-day. D-day effectively saw an end to World War II. Once the beach heads were secured the fate of the war was certain, the Allies would win. But there were still battles to fight, lives would be lost and peace was yet to take effect. Jesus’ first coming was effectively the D-day event. He brought his Kingdom but we do not yet see it fully. We too have battles to fight, storms to endure and are waiting for his peace to fully come.
This may give us some understanding as to why there may be suffering in the world but it doesn’t give us a comforting answer as to why. In truth, I’ve given up demanding an answer from God when storms come. Instead I look to the hope I have. Of course I pray about the situation but even more I cry for Jesus to come again.
How about you?