Tag Archives: money

If God Exists, Why is There Suffering & Evil?

In Uganda poverty and suffering is rampant.  UN statistics place 50% of the nation below the UN poverty level.  One of the most asked questions is, “If God Povertyexists, why is there suffering and evil in the world?”  William Lane Craig was asked this question at the University of Iowa.  His response is quoted below.  I have read it again and again and hope you find it as insightful as I did.  I have emphasized in bold certain segments that were meaningful to me.

WL Craig’s answer:

“There are so many things one would like to say about this profound question (of evil and suffering). Let me just add a couple points. I think one of the reasons we tend to find the problem of suffering and evil in the world so intractable, is Sufferingbecause we just sort of naturally assume that if God exists, then His purpose in life for us must be human happiness in this life. That God’s purpose is to make us happy. And the suffering and the gratuitous pain in this life don’t seem to contribute to that end.”

“But you see on a Christian world and life view that assumption is false. The purpose of life is not human happiness as such, but rather the knowledge of God, which in the end will lead to ultimate human fulfillment and happiness. And there are many evils and sufferings in this life, which I think are utterly gratuitous with respect to producing human happiness, but which may not be gratuitous with respect to producing a deeper knowledge of God either on the part of the sufferer or on the part of those around him.”

“And I strongly suspect that it may well be the case that only in a world involving a great deal of gratuitous natural and moral evil that the maximum number of people would come freely to a knowledge of God and His salvation.   And I say this not simply by faith, but really on the empirical basis of the demographics of the world today. If you read around the world where the Gospel is increasing and multiplying at its most rapid rates, there is almost a 1:1 correlation with countries where intense suffering is Moneyoccurring. And where the growth of the church is moribund, and the church is flabby and the growth rates are flat, is in the west where we are so comfortable and so content. But the countries like El Salvador, China, Ethiopia, countries in Africa – where the Gospel is growing at amazing rates – it is precisely in those countries where intense moral and natural suffering has occurred.”

“So I think that we constantly need to keep in mind that God’s purposes in life are much broader than what is merely conducive to our happiness. His ultimate purposes are to establish the Kingdom of God. And what we suffer should always be seen in light of that greater overarching purpose.”

“That leads me to a second comment that I want to make. That our suffering always needs to be seen, I believe, in light of the cross. Because God shows us in the cross that He is not a distant or grounded(?) Being or impersonal Creator who cooly sits by and watches us suffer. When people ask, when they go through intense suffering, ‘Where is God?’ then we ought to point them to the cross and say, ‘There is God.’ God is a God who enters into our world of suffering, and takes upon Himself the unimaginable suffering of bearing the penalty of the sins of the whole world, even though He was completely innocent. If anyone could complain of the problem of innocent suffering, it would have been Jesus of Nazareth. And though He was innocent, He took upon Himself the death penalty of sin that you and I deserved. And therefore seen in light of the cross the problem of evil takes on an entirely different perspective. j0435912When we see His suffering we now realize that the problem is not how God could justify Himself to us. The problem is how I, filled with wickedness and sin and morally guilty before God can be justified before Him. And I believe that when we look at the cross, we can say to ourselves as we go through times of suffering, ‘If God would go to that extent, if His love would carry Him to those depths for me, then surely out of my love for Him I can bear this burden that He has asked me to bear through this short life that I am enduring now.’ And I believe that this can give us the grace and strength to endure what God calls upon us to endure during this life.”

My comments:

In Uganda, too often, the “answer” to life’s problems becomes money.  But as we know in the States, money will not bring ultimate fulfillment or happiness.   Good grief, how shaky is the world’s financial system?  One hint of trouble, and the markets are negatively affected.  The world’s financial system seems to have the strength of iron, yet the fragility and frailty of clay.

Equip Uganda seeks to provide real answers and fulfillment in life by providing physical answers to life’s needs, as well as the ultimate spiritual answer to life, that of the Truth, found in no one else but Jesus Christ.  The answers are not quick and easy answers.  But they are answers that bring ultimate fulfilling satisfaction and contentment.

Advertisements

Learning the Importance of Engaging Others

On Monday, June 3rd at about 6:00 pm local time, I was approached on Main street in Jinja by Abraham, a twelve-year old local boy who saw our family of mzungus (white people) leaving a restaurant.  I was in a rush to get back to the Guest House to be with my family, yet this young guy caught my attention briefly by mumbling, “I wahnt sahma fuhd.”  Due to his thick Ugandan accent I had to ask him what he said.  He repeated the request which I understood this time, but he would not look me in the eye, “I want some food.”

Abraham did not look like a street kid – he was healthy-looking, dressed well, and knew where the street kid ministries were located that could help him.  He was unfortunately learning how to get what he wanted from the mzungus.

This is not the only time I have been asked for food or money since arriving here in Jinja.  I’m not complaining, it’s just caused some thought.  I was asked by two different parents to help them sponsor their children in school since school fees here are expensive and many families have numerous children.

Being in Jinja for just over a month now, I already see the power of money in a third world country.  The easiest, quickest response is money, and we’ve done that too.  Everyone wants just “a little bit more.”  And don’t we as Americans have relatively a lot of it?

So how are we to handle requests for money and food, especially when so many programs exist to help?

It’s interesting that there is an example in Scripture about money that leads us to what I think part of the answer is to this dilemma.  At first glance, the story may not seem to connect with this blog, but think about it more deeply.

MoneyIn Matthew 22, the story is recorded.  The Pharisees ask Jesus:  17Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

  18But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?   19Show Me the tax money.”

So they brought Him a denarius.

  20And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

  21They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Brilliant answer.

The well-known Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias in discussing this section of Scripture thinks that the Pharisees missed a great follow up question, which in his opinion they should have asked Jesus.  That question being, “And what belongs to God?”

Ravi thinks Jesus’ answer to this hypothetical question would have been something like, “Whose image is on you?”

On us?  Is there an image and an inscription on us?  According to Genesis 1:27 man is made in the image of God.  God’s image is on us!  So we belong to God – his workmanship and creation.  What about an inscription?  Incredibly Isaiah 49:15-16 tells us this truth, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb?Hand & Cross Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed (Heb root is to hack; implying to enact like laws written on stone) you on the palms of My hands;”

How much we matter to God, if we just stop for a while and consider!  He desires a strong relationship!  So much that He didn’t just throw money at us, but rather He cares for us more than a nursing mother does her child.  He took the inscription of our sins onto His palms through the nails that held Him to the cross.

I am learning this point:  relationships matter and we must make the time to engage people in our busy world and not just hand out money.  Love people – that should include engaging them while feeding them or helping them and tell them the Gospel reason why we are helping them.  Should we feed or give money in all cases?  I believe we should follow the lead of God’s Holy Spirit.  An important question might be:  Does handing generous sums of money out, bring those in need to depend on further begging or depend on Jesus?

Little Abraham had engaged me – whether for legitimate reasons or not, I do not know.  As Abraham and I were talking, I thought about Abraham’s request for food.  He knew the ministries where he could get food.  I did sense the Spirit asking me to engage him and we talked about real bread – the Bread of Life being Jesus.  I trust this was the appropriate response in this situation.  It has also reminded me of the importance of my quiet time in order to be prepared to face who God is leading to me that day.