Jim Denison points out that the issue of suffering is the single greatest objection to belief in an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God. Atheist Sam Harris says that the existence of a single suffering child anywhere in the universe calls into question the existence of a loving God. Atheist Christopher Hitchens lost his mother to suicide when he was young and never forgave God.
I remember the janitor at my first church opened the gates to one of the concentration camps in Nazi Germany and struggled to reconcile the suffering he witnessed with belief in a loving, powerful God. Philip Yancey wrote the book, Disappointment with God. Most of us could have contributed a chapter. But here’s the good news: despite all appearances, your suffering will be redeemed by an eternal God and your faith (even if shaky) will be rewarded with the promise of God’s heaven.
The Holy Spirit within us is the way God guarantees us with the salvation He offers. It is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put His seal on us and given us His Spirit on our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Cor. 1:21-22). Guarantee translates to “arrabon”, meaning earnest money or first installment. Paul’s metaphor comes from legal customs of his day. When an employer contracted an employee, he would often pay an “arrabon” to secure the person’s services. At the conclusion of the work, the remainder of the promised payment would be made.
In the same way, the Holy Spirit in your life is God’s down payment, creating a relationship with you that will be culminated when you are with Him in glory. John 14:1-3 indicates what that day will be like when we move into the place Jesus has prepared for us.
Paul explains the challenges of this life in a sin-tainted world in terms of looking through a glass dimly, but then it will be face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully (1 Cor. 13:12). The day we step from death into eternal life, from time into eternity, from this fallen world into God’s perfect paradise. Your sufferings will be redeemed for God’s eternal glory and your eternal good.
How can we be sure? The Spirit guarantees it. How? By moving within our hearts and minds and revealing the power of God in our prayers and the life we live walking in dialogue with Him!
–By Rev. Dr. William Lewis