With regard to the subject of life, the psalmist writes in Psalms 90:10, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” The strength, or boast, of this earthly life is labor and sorrow. Then we die.
These are sobering words, to read that even in our best years we can expect nothing more than labor and sorrow. Yet this thought is one we all understand. There are times in life where we may wonder what terrible event will happen next. One day we might be enjoying the company of family, and the next day suffering from the flu brought on by the visit. One day you might receive a brand new shirt, and the next day fall into a puddle of mud with that same shirt. Life is full of goods and bads, positives and negatives, benefits and disadvantages, sorrow and labor.
Wouldn’t it be nice if just the good things happened! We always won and never lost. We always felt healthy and happy, never sick and sad. We never had to feel pain again. Why then does God allow these things to happen in our life? Why do bad, often tragic, events happen to us?
This earth did not always operate this way. When God created the world, He created it perfectly. All the flowers bloomed, there were no thorns to deal with, and death was not an understood concept.
Notice though what Paul writes in Romans 5:12,
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
In Genesis 2, we are told that God had placed Adam and Eve in a garden most beautiful, to tend and keep it. They were instructed with one commandment in particular, not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. “For,” God says in Genesis 2:17, “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve do sin. Notice, God didn’t immediately strike them dead. Instead, their life now had finality. There would now be pains in childbirth (v.16), there would now be sweat, blood, and tears in work (v.17-19), and there would now be a final day to man’s life here on earth, “For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”
Labor, sorrow, negatives, disadvantages, sickness, all happen because man sinned against God, and God punished him with death (the end result of sin), with thorns, thistles, sweat, labor, and pain.
We should notice that it wasn’t God’s will that man die, because it certainly was not God’s will that man should sin. Man was given a free will choice, and he chose death, along with all its ailments and troubles. C.S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain, “We can, perhaps, conceive of a world in which God corrected the results of this abuse of free will by His creatures at every moment: so that a wooden beam became soft as grass when it was used as a weapon, and the air refused to obey me if I attempted to set up in it the sound waves that carry lies or insults. But such a world would be one in which wrong actions were impossible, and in which, therefore, freedom of the will would be void; nay, if the principle were carried out to its logical conclusion, evil thoughts would be impossible, for the cerebral matter which we use in thinking would refuse its task when we attempted to frame them.” This is important, because we should realize that it isn’t God’s will that we suffer.
Consider Naomi in Ruth 1:20-21, “But she said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” When we look these names up, Naomi is defined as pleasant, and Mara is defined as bitter. She was bitter toward God Almighty, because she believed He was punishing her. That it was His will that her husband and sons were now dead. But was it really God’s will?
We know from passages such as Lev. 26:14-16, that God used punishment and pain as a way to turn the hearts of His people back to them. Hebrews 12:3-12 tells us a similar statement, that it is for our good that we receive the chastisement of the Lord. Very often the most troublesome times in our life are the times we seek the hardest to draw close to God.
However, Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 that time and chance happen to all men. Christ says in Matthew 5:45, “…for He maketh the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Pain and sorrow are not God’s will for us. They are the result of Adam’s transgression, and will be with us till the earth is consumed with fire. God will use these troubles for our benefit and for our good (Genesis 50:20, II Cor. 12:7-10), if we will trust in Him (Prov. 3:5-10). Let us consider the troubles of life less like Naomi and more like Habakkuk, who in
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places…