Q. In some of your posts it almost sounds like you’re saying we don’t have to experience pain and suffering in this life. That would be so great and I’d love to believe that all suffering and pain can be removed through enough faith and prayer. But what did Jesus mean when He said to take up your cross and follow Me (Luke 9:23)?
A. I have never said that we don’t have to experience pain and suffering in this life. What I’ve said is God is not the cause of it.
The idea of taking up our cross or having a cross to bear as being a reference to pain or suffering is a man made construction based on a misunderstanding of Luke 9:23. When Jesus said to take up our cross and follow Him He was calling us to do as He was doing. Matt. 26:39 tells us He laid down His will in favor of His Father’s will. Romans 12:1-2 explains that’s exactly what we’re called to do. We’re to lay down our will for our life and embrace God’s will for our life instead.
When people say God allows us to suffer for our own good, they’re forgetting that the Bible tells us the whole world is currently under control of the Evil One (1 John 5:19). They’re forgetting that Jesus said we would have trials in this world, but to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). These statements wouldn’t make sense if God was the one allowing the trials to happen.
When sin came into the world it changed the creation in ways we can’t imagine. What little we know about life before the Fall tells us that pain and suffering were never part of God’s will for us, and no matter how much of it we have to endure in this evil place, none of it comes from Him and none of it makes us any more worthy in His sight. It’s simply the price we all have to pay because sin came into the world.
But God promised that in the next life there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things will have passed away (Rev. 21:4). I can hardly wait!