Mark Alan Williams
3 Trees That Explain Suffering: Tree #2
If God is good, why does He allow suffering and death?
In my last blog I shared about the first of three trees in God’s orchard of answers to suffering: Tree #1—the Tree of Death. I explained that before the rebellion associated with that tree, life on earth was a complete paradise. But rejection of God and His ways brought all suffering and death into the world.
Continuing the story, God was and still is deeply saddened when people reject Him.
“The LORD saw how evil humans had become on the earth. All day long their deepest thoughts were nothing but evil. The LORD was sorry that he had made humans on the earth, and he was heartbroken” (Genesis 6:5-6 GW).
Heartsick at sin and the resulting suffering it brings, God was able to do something. This brings us to:
Tree #2: A Tree on Mount Calvary—the Tree of Sacrifice Can Help Explain Suffering
What could God do?
His justice demanded a payment for wrongdoing.
But His incredible love provided the payment in the death of God the Son (Jesus Christ) who died for our sins: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13 ESV).
The tree in this verse is the cross on which God the Son (Jesus Christ) died for our sins—the cross on Mount Calvary.
Jews would hang condemned criminals or enemies on trees to shame them. The Romans hung people naked on crosses by the busiest roads for public humiliation. The cross is called a treebecause it was the Roman equivalent of the Jewish curse of being hung on a tree.
As sinners, we are not only deserving of death, we are deserving of shame for our sins. When Jesus died on the cross, he bore both: 1. the judicial payment for our sins, and 2. the personal shame of our sins.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 ESV).
The Bottom Line: God provided a solution for sin, suffering and death by dying on the cross to redeem for all eternity those who receive Him.
Some picture humanity waiting for God to come to our rescue, like a woman waiting for a lover at the train station who never comes.
The message of Christianity is that God did come in the form of the Savior Jesus Christ. The problem is that people reject His love. He comes and they don’t want Him.
He is like a potential lover who does come to the train station, but when the woman sees him she turns her back and walks away.
The answer to suffering is the Savior Jesus Christ who provides comfort on earth and the ultimate solution of eternal life.
But because of self-will and pride people look at Jesus, reject His love and walk away.
Instead, they tragically look to the empty philosophies explained in my blog titled Desperately Hopeless Approaches to Suffering and Death.
Dr. Paul Brand, a Christian missionary doctor working in a leprosarium in India, found that leprosy patients were losing fingers but no one could figure out how. Finally he realized that rats were gnawing their fingers off in the night while they slept, but patients were unaware since they couldn’t feel pain! They needed pain for their own protection.
Likewise, our pain can be a great blessing if we allow it to nudge us to the ultimate answer: the Savior and salvation.
Unfortunately, many do not learn this lesson from suffering.
I hope you do!
In my next blog I will explain the third tree in God’s orchard of answers to suffering. Can you guess what it is? Click here to find out.