A Steady Place in an Earthquake

We’re currently working through a sermon series on Biblical Theology, looking at themes as they develop in the Bible. It is reassuring to see how God has fixed and clear plans for the world and how He has a clear grip upon history.
Events like Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti might make us think otherwise. If God is in control of history then how can He allow such things to happen? How do we reconcile that earthquake with God’s control over all things? Closer to home, how are we to understand our own pains—whether sickness or otherwise?
God is clearly opposed to suffering, which the Bible shows us to be the outworking of sin in the world; Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35) and the Holy Spirit Himself groans with us as we struggle in this broken world (Rom. 8:22-27). But, at the same time, we must confront the massive truth that God is also in charge of suffering. The same Lord of history, who brings all His plans to completion is as much in charge of those terrible events as He is the ones that we wish to celebrate (Dan. 4:35).
This truth is challenging for us, but when we turn to look at Jesus we see that it is true, and true in a wonderful way. The death of Jesus was, surely, the most evil act that ever occurred—the murder of God Himself—and yet the Scriptures present God as in complete control of it. It is the culmination of all God’s plans and the fulfilment of all the themes we have been studying together. As we look at the Cross we see that there may be something more important that the avoidance of suffering and we also see that God Himself is no stranger to suffering, indeed Jesus chose to suffer on the cross in ways that we cannot imagine to spare His people that same suffering.
As we learnt when we studied Job together last year there are no easy answers—we follow a loving God who does not shy away from pain and evil but, somehow, gets in the middle of it. And thank God that He did, for imagine the suffering we would rightly endure had He not.

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