Why Global Suffering?

Our world is suffering. The wide-spread abuse of power is birthing some of the worst atrocities known to man. This morning I preached a message at our church titled, “Darfur, AIDS, and Sex-Trafficking: Why?” It was the final message in a series we’ve been doing titled, “Ask God.” In the series we’ve tackled some of the tough issue that leave us scratching our heads asking God what in the world is going on. Today’s message focused on global, wide-spread suffering. While there are no easy answers, I focused on three causes of suffering. With each one, I’ve added a leadership take-away:

1. Human Freedom and Responsibility – God created man with the freedom to choose, and man has used that freedom irresponsibly. Freedom is a good principle, but freedom ultimately could not exist unless the possibility of its abuse existed as well. Freedom without the ability to choose is not freedom at all. Had God not created us with the ability to freely choose, humans would be nothing more than wind-up toys whose behavior was manipulated by its manufacturer. Because man has been irresponsible with his freedom to choose, some of the most horrific atrocities in history–such as the genocide in Darfur–have emerged as the unchecked presence of evil. Leadership Take-Away: You will be held accountable for your leadership decisions. Use your freedom responsibly.

2. Original Sin – Philip Yancey once said, “Suffering…was introduced into the world as a consequence of man’s aborted freedom.” While Satan introduced sin into the spiritual realm, Adam and Eve introduced sin into the world when they willfully rebelled against God’s perfect design. As a result, the nature of man has become sinful. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” Leadership Take-Away: A leader’s sin nature affects more than himself. Your ability to control your sin nature and walk in full submission to Christ is absolutely essential.

3. A Wide-Scale Depraved Worldview – Everybody lives with a worldview–a set of beliefs and assumptions about God, ethics, values, morals, reality, and right and wrong–through which they view and interpret the world. When entire cultures live with a depraved worldview (a worldview that is misaligned with the Bible–similar to what we read about in Romans 1:28-32), the results can be devastating. How does this wide-scale depravation happen? It occurs when depraved ideas about what is right and wrong spread horizontally and vertically. The horizontal spread of wrong ideas occurs when one friend shares their beliefs with another and over time the ideas spread from person to person and community to community. Ideas about right and wrong spread vertically when leaders in positions of influence build entire cultures, systems, policies, laws, and economic structures based on their depraved belief system. Ultimately, the ideas about truth become institutionalized in the society’s laws, value systems, and structures, and, in turn, often create wide-spread suffering. Leadership Take-Away: A leader’s worldview shapes every person, system, structure, and organization he or she influences or interacts with. A foundational Biblical worldview is imperative for leaders to shape culture for good.

The answers to “why suffering” do not really satisfy our souls. And perhaps this is a good thing. Because if our souls found contentment in the answers to our questions about suffering, then our soul might be inclined to inaction. I believe the fact that we don’t have all the answers forces us to grapple with the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46 (I encourage you to read these words for yourself). At some point, followers of Christ must do more than ask, “Why?” We must ask “Who?” Who will respond to the need? Who will do something about the suffering? What will I do? I wrapped up the message this morning with an incredible video titled, “A Thousand Questions” that Willow Creek featured at their 2008 Leadership Summit. It’s just over 10 minutes long–and worth every minute.