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This subject comes up in almost every conversation when ministering to others, and it is a very difficult task to try and give adequate answers. I would not be honest if I were to say I have never doubted the goodness of God, from time to time, and to question His judgment and His love. There have been times I have been angry with God and have even entertained moments of throwing up my hands and walking away wondering if there even is a God. Then to add insult to injury, how many of us seem to run into “Super Christian” when we are at our lowest point? You know, the bouncy jovial person with the big “SC” stenciled on the front of the shirt, who sets us straight with the unshakable faith they have obtained.

We are blessed beyond measure in this country and many, many people have not really had their faith tested. I heard a local pastor say, “A faith untested is a questionable faith,” and I agreed with him 100%. There are those who believe a tested faith is when they have overcome a temptation, and in some ways, that may be true. The test I am speaking of, however, is a Job type of test. How many could endure the loss of family, bankruptcy, loss of all of your possessions and your health, yet remain strong in the Lord? Once again, I would have to be honest and admit that I would be unsure of how I would endure such a test if it were to happen to me. The raw fact is, there are some who have gone through such things, and those of us who have never had such things happen to us can be little more than one of Job’s friends. The last thing a person needs to hear when going through terrible times is that this is happening to you because you doubted God and lacked faith, or that it is a result of sin in your life. This is what all of Job’s well-meaning friends were telling Job. In reading the end of the book, we see that all were wrong, and God set the record straight. We find the answer in the 40th chapter of Job, which states that all mankind is vile and that none are righteous, therefore, none are in a position to judge God.

Many books and articles have been written on this subject, and I am not so arrogant to believe that I can shed new light on the subject, nor do I have any pat answers to such things. What I will try to do is at least give my understanding, as well as I can present it, in hopes it may bring some hope and comfort.

Is God Unjust?

This depends entirely upon how we view God as opposed to ourselves. How many criminals feel that the justice system is fair? I would venture to say that most inmates don’t feel they are deserving of being imprisoned. It has been rationalized in their minds that what they did was not wrong, and to them, they are right. However, for us on the outside looking in, we believe justice has been served. For these inmates, many continue to rail against the justice system and attempt to prove themselves as being victims and innocent of the charges. Perhaps there are those who are innocent, and just as likely, there are many who are guilty who have escaped being brought to justice. But in God’s courtroom, none will escape nor will any innocent persons be imprisoned. According to God’s laws, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Not only that, all of our attempts of righteousness are but filthy rags. (Romans 3:23 & Isaiah 64:6) According to God’s courtroom, every living soul is guilty of sin, and all mankind will pay the penalty, which is death. (Romans 6:23 & Genesis 2:17) Now, if everyone is guilty and deserving of death, then God is perfectly just. We may not feel that way, and we may want to declare that we are innocent of the charges and rail against God’s justice system, but if we could see ourselves through the eyes of God, we would know that we are guilty and are deserving of the penalty.

We all want to see justice served and the guilty pay the penalty when we see injustices, hurts and wrongs in this life, but when we may be faced with a similar charge, we desire mercy from the courts. Somehow, when it is ourselves facing a charge, it isn’t quite as bad as the other person’s charges. Funny creatures we are, aren’t we?

Is God a Merciful God?

Yes, God most definitely is merciful, for if He was not a merciful God, then there would be no hope for anyone of us. There is nothing that could prevent Him from pronouncing judgment on the world today, and He would be perfectly just in doing so. If that were to happen at this moment, in the next moment, every living being would be paying the penalty of sin, which is death. It is only because of His mercy that He has not. Evil, pain and misery is a result of the sin of mankind, and that is why God hates sin and that is why He has pronounced death upon those who sin, which is all of us. It is only because of His mercy that He has withheld passing judgment already. We can protest that and say He is not being just, but according to whose justice, God’s or ours?

Now, if I have been instrumental in explaining God’s perfect justice and His mercy, then that leaves one other thing that needs to be examined: God’s love.

Is God a God of Love?

Yes, and that again depends on what man calls love and what God calls love. Man’s love is, “love me then I may love you”. This kind of love is a conditional love which has limits and conditions attached, which is not love at all. God’s love is, “No matter how much you hate me, I still love you”. This is an unconditional love, with no limits or conditions attached. At this point, the next question usually follows, “If God is a God of love, then how can He send people to hell?”

First of all, God does not send people to hell. It is by man’s free will he chooses to be separated from God. God honors our choices, and will not force man to be where they do not want to be.

Secondly, it is not God’s will that man should perish. (2Peter 3:9)

Thirdly, hell was created for the devil and his angels who rebelled against God, and it was not originally intended for man. (Matthew 25: 41)

Let me put it in illustration form as to how it is God can be a God of love and yet allow man to go to hell.

Imagine the rebellious child of a family who may get involved in drug and gang activity, and if left to continue his destructive activities, the entire family will eventually suffer from his choices. (Anybody who ever has been around this kind of environment knows exactly what I am talking about.) The child could not care any less about how he is effecting other family members because, he does not consider his activities wrong and that it is his own life to live as he chooses. His main concern is to fulfill what he believes will bring him happiness, even at the expense of the happiness of the rest of the family. The family does not love this child any less, but out of love for the other members of the family, it eventually becomes necessary for him to be removed. When this occurs, I have yet to see rejoicing, but rather with a sad heart and sorrow that for the sake of the rest of the family, it becomes necessary. An unconditional love works both ways, to allow this rebellious child to inflict such pain on the rest of the family is to favor that child over the rest of the family. That would be a very unjust and a merciless thing to do to the rest of the family, which would not be perfect love.

I believe this illustration (although still very limited) portrays how God cannot love unconditionally apart from mercy and justice. The three cannot be separated in order for God to be a perfect and Holy God.

Now, we must go on to one other issue that must be addressed, grace.


If We Are Under Grace, Why Am I Still So Miserable?

If for no other reason I believe the Bible to be the word of God, it is this: the Bible is the only writing that tells it like it is. We are told there will be trials and tribulations in this life, no soft peddling and promises of grandeur. The only thing that Jesus offers is eternal life and the peace that comes from the assurance that He will never leave nor forsake us. He also promises that He will walk with us through the trials and tribulations, not remove them from our lives. The reason for that is because judgment has already been pronounced on the sins of man, which is the cause of man’s misery. Even though we are saved by grace, it does not mean that we will be exempt from what befalls man, and we still have to suffer the evil, pain and misery of a corrupt world. As hard as it is for us to understand, God loves those we may consider unlovable just as much as He loves us. Unconditional love does not show favoritism, and if He were to do that, then His love would not be unconditional, nor would He be a God of perfect justice and mercy. It is only because of His grace towards us that we are saved to begin with, and it is because of His love that He shows justice and mercy.

How Does Knowing This Help My Pain?

No, it doesn’t help the pain at the present time at all. When giving this answer, the usual response is, “Then, what does it profit me to know the Lord if He doesn’t care or help?”

That is to presume that Jesus does not care or help. I have a friend who was single until she was 36. She has often told me that while marriage did not eliminate her problems, when she was single, she had to carry all the burdens herself. Once she was married, her load became so much lighter because now she had someone who would help her carry each and every problem. Because she knew she had someone to share with, her sorrows were halved and her joys doubled. And as Christians, we have another aspect that helps to ease our pain. We have been promised that all our tears will be dried and there will be no more crying in heaven. (Revelations 21:4) I have to put it this way: those who do not know the Lord will go through just as much pain and misery as those who do believe, but, what do they have to look forward to after this life is over? This is the one thing that the believer is to take comfort in, the reality that all the promises in the Bible of eternal life, free from evil, misery and pain is for only after our life on this earth is over. Jesus cares and loves us so much, He died in our place so we can have this. This is His desire for each and every living being, which coincidentally is the desire of every human being as well. This is because we know in our hearts that there has to be something better, and that is the pursuit of mankind, trying to obtain utopia on this earth. This pursuit is not wrong; it is the thing man does in the pursuit the causes misery of others that is what is wrong. (Just as in the illustration I presented before.)

The only thing I can offer as comfort and hope is in what is written in 1 Peter 1:3-8

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though for a little while you may have had to suffer grief of all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Heaven is our eternal abode, not this life, and we must keep focused on the eternal rather than the temporal, which will soon fade away. It is these things one can rejoice about. It would only be silly and foolish to suppose we are to rejoice in our afflictions. Sort of like, thank you Lord for my house burning down, thank you Lord, in this I rejoice. Or, thank you Lord for my broken leg.

I believe the Lord does not bring these things about, but I do believe He is there with us when they do happen, and gives us comfort when we look to Him. When living in a corrupt world, terrible things happen, and eventually, will happen to each and every one of us. As for us who may not be going through a present crisis, we are to only but support, cry with and comfort those who are going through trials and tribulations. If we fail to do this because we don’t care, or if we were as one of Job’s friends, who will be there for us when we have our moment of trials and tribulations?

I heard this expression once, and liked it, we are to “Flesh out Jesus” on this earth; that is our calling. And what greater calling than to bring comfort and hope to the hurting?

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