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This was the title of a presentation I gave at a church near Cincinnati this past Mother’s Day. While Mother’s Day is a joyous occasion for many, it is sad for many others. I shared with the congregation a major tragedy that I associate with this day—losing my mother when I was 23 years old. My mom was an amazing godly woman who always put the needs of her family ahead of her own. She was selfless, humble, and a real prayer warrior who had a strong relationship with God. As I grew from a child into a young adult, she became my best friend.
When she died, my whole world fell apart. I cried, screamed, and shook my fist at God. It seemed so unfair, and I couldn’t understand why God would do this to me. I asked the question that many Christians do at times like this, “How do you explain death and suffering in a world where an all-powerful, loving, and just God exists?”
I found the answer several years later when I really understood for the first time that death is man’s fault, not God’s. God made the world “very good” (Genesis 1:31—meaning no death, disease and suffering). There was only one thing Adam and Eve had to do to keep it that way—obey God by not eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16–17). Adam and Eve disobeyed God and the punishment for Adam’s sin was death, not just to man (Romans 5:12) but to all of creation (Romans 8:22). Scripture says that “in Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22), so the answer to my question was, “You explain it with sin: Adam’s sin and our personal sin.”
I developed a biblical perspective on death and suffering (a triumph!), and I no longer viewed death as unfair or as God’s fault. Death is the result of sin and the curse. Now, I don’t say these things to gloss over the profound loss and sadness I felt about her death and still do from time to time. But for me, understanding the history in Genesis and the “why” of death and suffering was very important in helping me have a peace about my mother’s death, even years after she died. I’m also very thankful for my mother-in-law, Sylvia, whom God brought into my life shortly after my mother’s death. She took a very broken young woman under her wing and cared for her and loved her and helped restore her relationship with God.
The bad news is that because of Adam’s sin there is death and suffering in our present world, but we are not a people without hope, because God provided a cure for sin—His Son Jesus Christ! He promised the Savior to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15) and 4,000 years later that promised was fulfilled when Jesus was born and then died for our sins. The grave could not keep Him, God resurrected Him. Just as He conquered death, we too can conquer death if receive Christ as our personal Savior. I eagerly look forward to Christ’s return and to someday seeing my mom in heaven.
A few years later, I would realize just how important it is to have a biblical answer to the question of death and suffering, as my husband Chris and I faced our own trial. Check back on Thursday for Part two!
Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!