The Meaning of Life and Why Suffering Exists (Part II)
A Relationship with God: A Possible Reason for Suffering
When God created the universe, he “saw that it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 ESV); what this means is that God was pleased with his creation. As we can see at the beginning of creation, God created the first people, Adam and Eve, and then gave them dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28-30 ESV). Since they were made in the image of God, they were perfect (Genesis 1:27 ESV). As perfect human beings, they had a relationship with God as can be seen in Genesis 2 before they disobeyed him in Genesis 3:17 (English Standard Version) by “[eating] of the tree of which [God] commanded [them not to eat].” The tree is very symbolic more than anything – but, disobedience came with a price: death; we see this in Romans 5:12 where – not only did Adam receive death as a penalty for his sin of disobedience – but, death spread to us – to every human being – as a result: “just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin… so death spread to all [people].”
Since death entered into the world through sin, it is understandable for us to consider suffering. Remember what we mentioned above about God putting eternity into our hearts? The truth is, we know that death is real, and we wonder about eternity. To suffer means to contemplate death and to dread its arrival. The good news, though, is that God doesn't allow suffering as punishment ultimately; this suffering is meant to bring us back to him in the relationship.
In Matthew 11:28-30 (English Standard Version), the Lord Jesus Christ says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest[; t]ake my yoke upon you… and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [M]y yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Jesus Christ, the Son of God – God-incarnate – invites us to lean on him in times of suffering. It says, “in everything [–] by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [–] let your requests be made known to God” – meant to get us going to him in times of suffering (Philippians 4:6 ESV). It is understandable for God to want to have a relationship with us because he created us: “In the beginning, God created the [universe and all that is in it]” (Genesis 1:1 ESV).
Thinking about this, there is a good reason to cultivate a relationship with God: eternity with him in heaven and no more death. God promises that those who believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, and who walk in faith with him will have “everlasting life” (John 3:16 ESV). Furthermore, the offer of eternal life is free: “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 ESV). It says, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13 ESV).
If you are wondering why there is suffering, this could be the reason why; God wants a relationship with everyone – he even wants to extend an offer of eternal life for following him (Matthew 16:24-26). It's a worthy consideration if we know in our hearts that death is inevitable and we want to find a way to cope with the suffering that we’re experiencing.