Explore God 3: Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering?

For 7 weeks, we're partnering with over 100 other churches in metro Richmond for the Explore God series. This series is especially designed for people that have spiritual questions and are exploring what they believe. For more information on the full series, as well as other Explore God opportunities we have going on, visit our Explore God page, or visit the ExploreGod.com.


For Meditation

This week we turn to look at the oldest question people asked about God. Even in ancient times, people rarely questioned the existence of God, nevertheless, they questioned the goodness of God. How could he possibly be a good God if he allowed such sorrow, pain, and senseless evil in the world?

On Sunday, we’ll go deep into that question and explore it not just from an intellectual perspective but also from an experiential one. We know that suffering is something we all face from time to time and that millions of people in the world face every day. But ultimately we’ll look at how God answers us in suffering, and how he doesn’t give us a set of solutions, but instead gives us his own person. What we see in the Bible is a God who comes down into the middle of our suffering - first in the Old Testament and then ultimately through Jesus in the New Testament who was born into a life of suffering for all of us.

Finally, we'll look at the resources God makes available to us in suffering— prayer, the holy spirit, community, and ultimately in the promise of hope that he will restore all things.


Our weekly worship guide (bulletin) can be downloaded here. 

Psalm 22:1-11

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
    “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.

John 11:30-44

30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”