Hope is the only thing we have to hang onto when evil and suffering crashes in on our life. Eleonore Stump said “Worldwide the earth is soaked with the tears of suffering.”
We experience evil and suffering in three ways:
1. Aging: It affects all of us. It comes and there is nothing we can do about it.
2. Decay: At age 45-55 you can’t do what you did when you were younger. Things start to break down from the physical and mental aspect.
3. Death: Epicurus said, “Against other things it is possible to gain security. When it comes to death, we all live in an unwalled city.”
Aging, decay and death force us to look at three realities about life:
• Life is hard. (Job 5:7, 14:1)
• Life is fragile. We are broken and fallen. (Genesis 3 says “we are but dust” and James 4 says “we are a vapor.”)
• Life is fleeting. (Psalm 90:3-6,9-10)
Hope in an eternal God helps us face death and dying as conquerors. (1 Corinthians 15:53-55) We may die physically but in death there is victory if we live with hope and faith.
SUFFERING RELATED TO NATURAL DISASTERS
• The magnitude of suffering caused by natural disasters can overwhelm us. We can have a feeling of hopelessness and/or helplessness.
• The helplessness created by natural disasters reminds us that we are vulnerable.
• The chaos created by natural disasters leaves us in a state of confusion.
Hope in an all-powerful God helps us face disaster with calm and compassion. (see Mark 4:38-39) What we need when disaster strikes is calm. God cares — we need hope and we need to hush and be still. God is in control.
SUFFERING AT THE HANDS OF MAN
We cannot ignore that we are not just talking about others, we are talking about ourselves because we are the “others” to others. We create evil and suffering for other people — often to those we love. We cannot ignore that human evil can cause us to become contemptuous and callous or cause us to be compassionate. We cannot ignore that human evil exposes the lie that mankind is getting better.
A lot of people are without hope and asking, “Do you have any real hope?” Your answer should be this: My God supplies a sure anchor in the sorrow of death and dying, in the storms of disaster and in the incivility of those who seek to destroy life. Hope allows me to conquer and confront evil and suffering with calm, compassion, and courage. Hope in a just God helps us face the destroyer with courage. Run to God, trust in God, hope.
(Material is Copyright © 2009 by Derrick G. Jeter. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.)