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Lesson 4: God and Human Suffering *

Introduction: This week we take a break from progressing through the Job story. Instead, we will spend time studying the issue of God and human suffering. When we suffer, or those we love suffer, are we tempted to think there is no God - or at least no loving God? That would be natural. If there is a loving God, why would He allow suffering? What evidence do we have for God? Let's dig into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Proof of God

    1. Read Romans 1:18-19. What does this say about the reason some suffer? (Humans who try to hide the truth about God suffer God's wrath.)

      1. How do these ungodly people suppress the truth? (By their wickedness. The righteous give glory to God when they live a righteous life. The wicked suppress the truth of God by living an evil life.)

      2. Are these wicked people just confused? Are they deceived by Satan? (No! Evidence of God is "plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.")

    2. Read Romans 1:20. How is evidence of God plain to humans? (Plain evidence of God ("His eternal power and divine nature")exists in what He has made.)

      1. I often hear Christians say, "God is a matter of faith." Indeed, they argue against evolutionists by saying "what you teach as science is a matter of faith, thus both theories of origins are matters of faith." How does the "faith" argument line up with what the Bible says? (Not well. Romans says this is not a matter of faith at all. It says the existence of God (and His "eternal power and divine nature")is "plain" when we consider what He has made. We have proof!)

      2. Let's examine this a bit more. What do you find in the creation that makes the power and divinity of God plain? (I start with the human hand. Humans today, with all of their knowledge and computer assistance, cannot perfectly replicate a hand. If humans still cannot perfectly reproduce a hand, consider the arrogance of thinking that a hand came about by chance and natural selection.)

      3. I recently watched a documentary about a new theory on the speed of light. It mentioned the fact that the universe is expanding at exactly the right speed. The two scientists arguing the new theory said something like, "Either we are right about this (variable speed to adjust the expansion), or you have to believe in the God thing." What does this say about the "God thing?" (The "God thing" is obvious. Certainly more obvious than light adjusting its own speed.)

        1. How does the expanding nature of the universe, which was only recently discovered by humans, show God's "eternal power and divine nature?" (If the universe expanded too fast, it would blow apart. If it did not expand fast enough, it would collapse. The power to regulate this is beyond our comprehension. The mind to know such a thing is that of a god - our God.)

    3. Read Job 12:7-9. Job writes specifically about birds. Have humans replicated the way birds fly? (We fly, but not the way birds fly. This is another proof the birds did not come about by chance and natural selection.)

    4. Let's continue the "proof of God" argument in Romans. Read Romans 1:21-25. What happens when a person rejects the obvious truth about God? (They become more foolish! The next step toward ignorant arrogance is to worship something you made! If you had the power to make it, why would you worship or serve it?)

    5. Read Romans 1:26-27. Why is homosexuality a logical extension of rejecting the logic of a Creator God and adopting the worship of idols? (One of the professors with whom I work said he wants to write a book about "The obvious." Isn't it obvious that you should not worship something you made? Isn't it obvious that sex between two men or two women is contrary to their natural design? Sex allows humans to reproduce, and homosexual sex is completely illogical for that purpose. Isn't this completely "plain," completely obvious?)

    6. Read Romans 1:28. If we knowingly reject what is plain and obvious about God and His creation, what happens as a result? (If you reject God's knowledge, your mind becomes depraved and you do what is obviously wrong.)

    7. Read Romans 1:29-32. What is particularly troubling about these people who have depraved minds? (They approve of those who practice these things. They are advocates of sin.)

      1. Do you see this today like never before during your life?

      2. Now let me ask you the most sobering question. Do you find some of your sins described in Romans 1:29-32? The way Romans lays out the argument makes these sins seem worse than homosexuality. Are your sins also obviously wrong?

  2. The Creation Attack

    1. Think back to our first lesson in this series about Job. On what basis did God say to Job, "I'm God and you are not, sit down and shut up?" (God asked Job a series of questions that showed that God not only created the world, and understands how it operates, but God is still in charge.)

    2. Read Revelation 4:11. On what basis does God claim the right to receive glory and honor and power? (He is the Creator! This is a consistent theme of the Bible. Not only did God say this to Job, but it is repeated over a hundred times (I once counted) in the Bible.)

    3. Read Colossians 1:15-20. Who created "all things?" (Jesus. When the text says "He is the image of the invisible God," and that He "reconcile[d] to Himself all things," this describes Jesus.)

    4. If you were Satan, and you were in a conflict with God, what would be your strategy to separate God from the allegiance of humans? (Destroy belief in the Creation.)

      1. How does the evolutionary theory fit into this?

      2. How does the Sabbath fit into this? (Read Exodus 20:11.)

      3. How does the attack on traditional marriage fit into this? (Read Genesis 2:21-24. God's original plan was that a man and woman become "one flesh" through reproduction. If that never happened, if this is just a myth, and we evolved from nothing, then it takes God out of the argument and we are left only with "the obvious.")

  3. Suffering

    1. Read Job 6:1-3. When you are suffering, do you say things that you do not really mean? (Job says that he is in such anguish, that his words are "impetuous.")

    2. Read Job 6:4. Who does Job say is responsible for his suffering? (God - "the Almighty.")

      1. Is Job right? (What we have studied in this series shows that God permitted Job's suffering. It was not God's idea. Could God reasonably predict that Satan would attack Job when God held Job up as an example of a righteous and faithful man?)

    3. Read Job 6:8-10. What does Job want? (To die!)

      1. Why? (He would have the joy of knowing that in the middle of all of his pain, he had not denied God.)

    4. Let's think about this a minute. Job believes that God is causing his unjust suffering, yet he hopes for death so that he will not deny God. How does that make any sense from Job's point of view? (Job's comments reflect God's ultimate argument to him, that God is God and Job is not. Job wants to trust God and God wants Job to trust Him.)

    5. Re-read Job 6:4. When I wrote that God permitted Job to suffer, and Job's suffering at the hands of Satan was predictable, would you agree that God was the cause of Job's suffering? (Go back to the beginning of the entry of sin in our world. Isn't Satan attending the heavenly staff meeting because of Adam and Eve? However you look at this, we are responsible for our own suffering. Either we suffer because we broke a law of nature and we suffer the natural results (see Deuteronomy 28), or we suffer because we let evil into our world. The introduction of evil has all sorts of illogical consequences because evil is illogical.)

    6. Read Job 10:12-17. Is this true? (Not in the least. We know God regretted what happened to Job (Job 2:3).)

    7. Friend, you and I are not "blameless" ( Job 2:3) like Job. Whether suffering comes to us because we have violated a law of nature, or whether it comes because of the introduction of evil into our world, or whether it comes because we are a warrior for God, our best reaction to suffering is simply to trust God. Will you commit, right now, to trusting God?

  4. Next week: Curse the Day.
* Copr. 2016, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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