Isaiah 45:6,"That men may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me (God). I am the Lord, and there is no other; I formed the light and create darkness. I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things." God is ruler over light and darkness, over prosperity and disaster. We know this because the Bible tells us so. The non-believer asks on what authority does the Bible speak? The simplest of answers and perhaps the most profound (although my intelligence negates the profoundness of anything I would state) is that what God has declared and created He in His wisdom, power, mercy and grace has redeemed. This is the singular aspect of all Biblical teaching and thought, in that, God has provided redemptiom from this sin-confused world.
As an example, human conflict has been a constant factor of human social evolution with its historical record spanning 6,000 years. Need I mention the unconscionable acts done in the name of moral depravity, God and country. We need not look beyond the gates of our own homes to find the need for restoration from the excessiveness of our culture. I believe we all have within each an understanding and yearning for the infinite that resides in our hearts. This is the cry for redemption, the provisory need of of our human nature.
A major reality of life is the "... inscrutable mystery of innocent suffering." Why does mankind have to suffer? Why are we haunted with the thoughts of freedom from pain? Why are we so confused? Like all other human experiences, suffering is directed by perfect divine wisdom.
There is a myth in the land that the prosperity of Christians is a result of reward for obedience and faithfulness. This has become known as the 'Prosperity Gospel'. It is a 'gospel' which is not satisfied with just a confortable existence, 'our daily bread' , but which declares that extravagance and indulgence should be a harbinger of the state of Christians spirituality. True Christians do not have to be 'poor', living in poverty, grinding out their daily existence. Personal wealth is a means of determining God's grace.
This is in reality a perversion of God's grace, focusing on the profitablilty of Christianity, not the horrific cost paid in providing salvation. It misinterprets Gods' deepest love for us, that we should have material well-being, rather than that we should be 'made whole'. One cannot judge a person's spirituality based on his painful circumstances or successes. Finally it places pain and suferring outside the realm of everyday Christian experience, spiritualizing blessing. People are being lead to sin in forgettimg God's goodness and provision. People in the midst of suffering should not abandon their belief, but draw nearer to God, so that from fellowship can come comfort and consolation ---- without explanation.
People are believing what the Psalmist articulates in Psalm 73:13,14, "Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in inocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning." In a moments careless interpretation of God's goodness a value has been put on salvation. A value which cheapens grace and suffering. A value which diminishes the divine wisdom of God to the ordinary exploits of commerce. A value which devolves pain from the perfection of God's wisdom and purpose to a mundane, unimaginative irrelevance.
What is divine and perfect about wisdom which contorts life with pain?
Job 2:10, "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? Deuteronomy 29:29, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things revealed belong to us ..." Human wisdom deflates in the presence of the infinite wisdom of God. Lamentations 3:9, "He (God) has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He (God) has made my paths crooked." Many believe that there are many paths through life, paths of peace and harmony, paths of prosperity and success, paths of denial and sacrifice, paths of self-inflicted hardship and difficulty, paths of imagination, paths with comfort, paths of personal passion and paths of companionship with humanity. These paths have many things in common, they all contain sorrow; as a result of sin; as a result of error; because of the need to change; there is need for courage; there is need for love; there is need for redemption; for the paths are not salvation in and of themselves they are only the means to entering or finding the true path. Lamentations 3:40 "Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to God."
Jesus said, "Enter through the narrow gate;..." on a path so narrow in its width that the focus is placed on the destination, the reason for the path, salvation and redemption, and the heart devouted to the worship and humility of a sovereign and perfect God.
Job:5:18, "For He inflicts pain (bruises), but He binds up (gives relief), He wounds, but His hands make whole (heal)."