by: Staci Stallings
During the craziness that was the beginning of February for me, I was on Twitter a lot. One thing about Twitter I’ve learned is that people are not shy to point out when they don’t agree with you–especially if you’re a Christian. Some people, it seems, live to try to de-faith you. They send posts saying you’re wrong, that God doesn’t exist, etc. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say back. After all, you only have 140 characters to work with, and if you haven’t noticed by now, brevity is not always my strong suit.
So when I got this message, it took me a little bit to figure out how to respond:
“Africa is a Christian country. So why is there so much suffering there?”
Now frankly, I don’t usually think of Africa as particularly Christian, but maybe that’s me and not accurate. So let’s assume this poster knows what they are talking about and that Africa is, in fact, a Christian country (which of course, it is not because Africa isn’t even a country or a nation. It’s a continent with a bunch of different nations), but we’re going to proceed on the assumption that it is a nation and Christian.
My first thought was, “This is a gotcha question.” This person doesn’t CARE about the people in Africa. He just wants to attack me with the whole, “If God exists and He loves Christians, then how do you explain that Christians suffer?” line of thinking.
Lots of people who don’t believe in God will try to attack you on this very point.
“If God loves us, why are there…” fill in the blank… “earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis…”
To this I say that there are natural earth laws–laws that most of the time are very good for us. Gravity is great, for example, unless it pulls a plane out of the sky and kills 290 people. The Law that says two objects with mass cannot be in the same space at the same time makes sense and is good–until a car hits a tree, and something’s got to give. The wind shifts that come together to cause thunderstorms are good for the crops and the people–except that sometimes they also cause tornadoes.
So in counter to the natural laws argument. The laws themselves aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, often they are very good and helpful. But sometimes they lead to things we’d rather not experience.
The same can be said if you fill in the blank with things like “war or violence or murder.”
See, there’s also the Law of Human Free Will. That means you get to CHOOSE how to react to things that happen. Most of the time that’s a good thing, right? But sometimes when we or others choose things that are not helpful or productive or even destructive and dangerous, it is tempting to think that law should be revoked.
The same is true with Christians who suffer. Now if you’ve been a Christian for more than about 10 minutes, you know that being a Christian doesn’t somehow exempt you from suffering. Being a Christian is not some magic pill that POOF makes everything wonderful in your world. You are still, in fact, in the world, but you are no longer OF the world. That means Christians who suffer are not the exception to the rule, they are simply still under the laws of the world just as everyone else is.
And here’s the catch.
Christians have the amazing gift that they are not alone in their suffering. God is right there. He may not override the laws, but He will help you through whatever it is you are going through.
So I told my Twitter acquaintance…
“Being a Christian doesn’t mean you don’t suffer, it means you know the One Who can get you through the suffering.”
See, I can be brief and to the point when I have to be. 🙂
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