We understand this from a very young age. A sibling gets two lollies when you only got one – that’s not fair. You work hard and the lazy guy at work gets the promotion – that’s not fair. Your spouse get’s cancer whilst you’re in your prime – that’s not fair.
When faced with the reality of a world that is not fair, we ask the reflex question of why? Why if God is good does this happen? Why if God is all powerful can this not be stopped? Why? Even if we find a rational answer to the why, it is hardly satisfying the in the midst of pain.
Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t really resolve the why question in the way we would like. It never really gives us the key to avoiding or alleviating suffering in this life. We want to know why so we can make sense of what is happening, prevent it happening in the future, or perhaps so we can stop it in the present. Unfortunately there is no mathematical formula to help us understand the nature and allocation of suffering in the world. Yet, just alongside the reality of suffering, in Scripture we are given a picture of the God of the Bible who is all powerful, who is loving, who is sovereign, and who can turn our suffering to good.
In fact, what we find in Scriptures is that the fundamental question for those in the midst of suffering is more who, than why. Who will you turn to in your pain? Who will you trust?
Whilst the why question is a normal, reflex question, it never really solves our problem or alleviates the pain. It can at times keep us in the past rather than move us forward. This doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate question, but it may not give us the relief we are looking for.
The who is questioning who is in control? Who can make things right? Who can restore all things?
The answer of the Bible is Jesus. In a passage reminding us of the supremacy of Christ, Paul writes:
“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1: 17)
In a few paragraphs we can’t hope to resolve this question of pain and suffering entirely. But when you feel the pull to ask why? Try looking to the who? When you feel like your life is being torn apart, there is someone who holds all things together.