It’s 2:13 AM and I can’t sleep. All my sinus passages are stuffed or swollen, ears ringing, muscles aching, throat raw, and vision blurred. I sneeze, wretch empty, and swallow dry, sharp nothing. This is miserableness!
But it’s merely miserableness. It’s flu season and many are my miserable mates. I am not being tortured for my faith, not mortally wounded nor currently dying. I am merely miserable. I’ve earned no pity, merited no ‘get well’ cards or phone calls. This miserableness is merely a part of mortality. It’s a “suck it up” sort of sickness, not bad enough to be bed-ridden, not threatening enough to merit bravery. It is merely miserable.
Shall I question the love of God because of this? Hardly! After all, a certain amount of suffering is just part of– what do they call it?… “the human experience?” But where is one to draw a line? I mean, when horrid tragedies occur, when the innocent are slaughtered, families are destroyed, millions starve, are tortured or unjustly treated, some cry “How can there be a loving God?” But shall I doubt Him when I stub my toe? If not, why not? On what basis can one come to a conclusion?
Scripture teaches that evil is the outcome of human sin. But not all evil originates there. When the serpent tempted Eve that temptation was an evil act, and prior to Eve’s taking of the serpent’s counsel humanity had not yet sinned.
Paul warns us of “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 4:12) and urges us to be well-armoured against them. There is a devil and his demons “roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it” (Job 1:7, 2:2) and “seeking to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). “The whole creation,” Paul explains, “has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Rom. 8:22).
In this world we experience temptations of flesh, but also of world and of devil (see 1 John 2:16). “In this world you will have trouble,” announced Jesus – from stubbed toes to mass destruction, but God is not their author; God suffers with us in these. He weeps with us (John 11:35) and sees us through them. “Take heart!” He adds, “I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
God has provided a way out of this misery. For those who place full trust in Christ He is preparing a better world (John 14:1-3), a place of no mourning, crying or pain (Rev. 21:4). Till then, Eliphaz spoke rightly, “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” But in our miserable middles of the nights God’s Love and His Goodness have not changed. “Take heart!” “Look up!” (Luke 21:28) — Redemption draws near.