Guest post by Jim Davis
Jim and I became friends several years ago at the Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference. I love his writing and insight into tough issues. He will be writing guest posts for me while I’m in India for ten days. Jim gives us a glimpse into some of the questions he addresses in his new book coming out in January, 2014, titled Why Me? And Why That’s the Wrong Question.
When God made the world, why didn’t he make one where people wouldn’t die or get hurt?
This is an interesting question, and one we are all hard-wired to ask. It has to be answered on two levels, and the first is simple.
Why didn’t God create a world without pain? Well, He did.
In the beginning, when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, there was no death. They had perfect communion with God, because they had not sinned. But when they gave in to the serpent’s temptation and sin entered the world, everything changed. So He kicked mankind out of the perfect garden and cursed humanity, so that work and childbirth would be marked by pain, and that at the end of his days, man would return to the dust (die) (Gen. 3).
I think one reason suffering bothers us so much is that deep in our souls, we remember Eden. “God set eternity in the heart of man.” (Eccl. 3:11). We know within that the world is broken,things are not the way they are supposed to be. It’s no wonder we look at the death and pain around us and wonder, Why? Clearly, though, we aren’t in Eden anymore.
So let’s change the question a little and get to some of the deeper issues: Why didn’t God stop Adam and Eve from sinning, so that sin would never enter the world and people could have stayed in Eden?
Because we are created in His image. He gave us brains and individuality. He allows us to make choices. We’d hardly even be alive if God forced every thought and decision we made (although he is sovereign and certainly could do that). God gives us freedom to love Him, and freedom not to, and we all – every single one of us – choose at times not to love Him.
Why didn’t God just forgive Adam and Eve and let them stay in the garden? Why does there have to be punishment for sin?
Because of who God is. God, who is perfectly holy, cannot tolerate sin. Adam and Eve simply could not remain in his presence in their rebellion. And God, who is perfectly just, cannot ignore sin. Sin must be punished. If God looked the other way, He would not be God. And what was true for Adam and Eve is true for us as well. Every sin that ever happened or will happen must be punished, and that punishment will either fall on us, or, if we trust in the Cross, on Jesus. But the debt will be paid.
God created a world without pain, and we blew it. Because of our sin, this life will involve suffering. But it won’t always be this way. One day, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and those who trusted in Christ will live with him forever:
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4).
There was no suffering in Eden, and there will be no suffering in Heaven. But we live between Eden and Heaven.
Sometimes, it’s going to hurt.
Jim Davis lives in Birmingham, Alabama. He’s a Sunday School teacher, husband, dad, and constitutional attorney who writes and teaches Bible studies. You can find more about Jim and his new book, Why Me? And Why That’s the Wrong Question at www.jimdavisbooks.com.