Why My “Bad Theology” Isn’t Causing Your Suffering - A Response to a DesiringGod.org Article

My three year old daughter, Maya, sometimes falls down. This might happen at the playground, in the driveway or while she is playing in her room. When the fall is serious enough, the tears will begin to flow and she will run towards her daddy and ask for me to comfort her.  I am thankful she trusts me and loves me enough that my kisses on her knee make her feel better. 


Now imagine, Maya spends all week praying to not fall and hurt herself. She has gone all week without injury, but all of a sudden her daddy – who has seen and heard her prayers, puts out his foot while she is running to trip her and causes her to fall. Now, the hurt daughter will turn to dad again looking for comfort and I can relish in both comforting and causing her suffering.

This above scenario is extremely unlikely, yet is how many people regularly believe our relationship with God the Father works – which is that He both prevents and causes our suffering.

A recent article written for desiringgod.org titled, “Just Have More Faith – How Bad Theology Hurts the Suffering” starts by asking, “Why does God answer yes to some prayers and no to other? Why does God miraculously heal some people and not others? Why does disaster strike one city and not another?”

These are great questions. Many people both saved and unsaved have asked these types of questions before. To me, however, it seems that the people who ask these questions the most are often the ones who are hurting the most. They are asking these questions because they are still seeking answers and relief for their pain. I believe that those who can learn to trust, love and know God can learn the answers and not be paralyzed be fear of future sufferings or angry at the God they think caused those sufferings.

My dad, John Simmons the First

My dad, John Simmons the First

I was twelve years old when I prayed for a day off school and woke up the next morning to the news that my father had died. I blamed God for my fathers death and ran from His love for decades.  My heart was changed to the truth when I learned that God is not in control of this earth (2 Corinthians 4:4) and that the enemy has come to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).

God is not causing your suffering. The enemy is. God does not kill your loved ones, satan does. God does not lie to you about who you are or what His plans for your life are, the enemy does. God does not steal your wealth, relationships or health from you, satan does.  Jesus came so that we could have a more abundant and satisfying life than the one the enemy has for us (John 10:10). I don’t know what’s satisfying about living a life of suffering without any victories.

I understand and empathize with those that hurt and feel like they are suffering because I lived in that place of doubt, questions and faithlessness for a long time. The author of the above mentioned article has obviously dealt with trials and tribulations. My heart goes out to her.  I see her pain in articles like this one and the half dozen others she has written with the word suffering in the title. However, I would remind her and anyone else who feels like they are suffering that questioning God and His actions or motives is not an appropriate response to difficult situations.

James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”  When believers spend all their time questioning God we aren’t showing the pure joy James writes about. We also aren’t relying on our trust in God.

I was filled with joy when my children were born, when I was married and when I was set free from addiction. Not once in those moments did I say, “God, why are you doing this to me?” or “Your plans for my life are not for me to know.” I rejoiced in trusting God and seeing His will unfold in my life. I try to keep this level of faith in mind when facing an undesirable trial or tribulation because I know what pure joy looks like, so I know I must strive to find it even in trouble.

A former pastor of mine – who lost a loved one to cancer, once preached that healing must not be available today because his family of believers prayed earnestly for God to heal their loved one and they died anyway. He said, “If supernatural healing was around today why aren’t those those who are able to heal at the hospital healing everyone right now. The fact that there is sickness in the world at all is proof that supernatural healing isn’t for today.”

Praying for someone to be healed is not a promise of restoration. Even the Apostles prayed for the sick and saw them stay sick (Matthew 17:16). If a believer requires a 100% healing prayer success rate to be necessary for them to have faith in its power today, then that believer should also disregard all the healing work done by the Apostles. However, I wish for no believer to undermine the work of God through any other believer based on our own experiences or results. God’s word is the ultimate authority on the limits of our faith and that word says that faith allows anything to be possible (Matthew 17:20).

Our faith in God should not be lessened because our experiences haven’t always provided the desired outcome. Our faith should rise to the level of God’s word and promises regardless of how it looks naturally. In other words, if you haven’t experienced a supernatural answer to prayer doesn’t mean you should stop believing they exist.

Romans 15:13 says, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.”  Would you trust someone who kidnaps and tortures you? Or would you ask them, “Why are you doing this?” Or ask them, “Would you please stop and let me go?” When we question everything bad that happens to us or believe that God causes our sufferings aren’t we trusting the kidnapper?

God is the source of hope. Hope is not found in living a life of suffering cause by His own hand. Hope is found through believing God can pull us from and out of our sufferings. I know that we will suffer as believers. We will suffer as we attempt to flee from sin and when we are persecuted for our faith. Believers will face trials and tribulations of many kinds, but that does not mean God caused them.

The article from desiring god.org says, “God numbers our days before they begin, and he alone determines when we will die (Psalm 139:16).”  Knowing what will happen does not mean you caused it to be so. I was once told Bruce Willis died at the end of the movie, Armageddon before I watched it.  Knowing that information in advance didn’t cause his character to die or stop me from preventing it.

Psalm 139:16 isn’t proof that God designs our deaths but is a reminder that God has an intimate knowledge of each one of us while we are alive. He cares for us. He is recording our lives in His books. Our lives, however, are a series of free will choices. Our last day in known by God, but not determined by Him. If we have no free will choices than our faith in God doesn’t really matter. The answers to your questions about why do good things happen to good people doesn’t matter. If you can’t change an outcome through faith than there is no need for its existence.

Thankfully that is not the case. Faith doesn’t limit our outcomes, it multiplies them! Imagine every prayer of healing that was answered and every situation of hopelessness that found a joy filled ending.  Imagine the possibilities of what your faith in the God of hope can achieve instead of dwelling on the enemy caused problems of the world we are facing.

God does have a plan for your life. He isn’t keeping it a secret. His plan is not for you to suffer for the sake of suffering. His plan is to give you a future and a hope. If you are finally ready to discover what that plan is, I would encourage you to pick up a copy of my new book, God Has a Sentence for Your Life – which can show you how to find joy, peace and hope regardless of your circumstances and walk in the designed purpose God created you to fulfill (Ephesians 2:10). 

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