In the last few posts we have been discusing the issue of pain in our lives. We want to continue that disussion with this post. We have established that much of the emotional hurt we face in life has to do with the fall of mankind into sin. This whole process of the sins of one person hurting another began with Adam in Genesis 3. When Adam sinned, the perfect world God created became tainted by sin. One result of the taint of sin was natural disasters. Such disasters cause signiﬁcant pain to the lives of millions of people who never even knew Adam existed.
The ripple eﬀects of Adam’s sin continue to cause pain to people after many millennia. In the past most people were not aware of the pain that natural disasters caused around the world. Today, through the Internet, cable television, and other technological advances, the next generation has witnessed dramatic suﬀering in the world that was not caused by the people who experienced the pain.
The terrible tragedy of 9/11, the tsunami of 2004, and the earthquakes in Haiti in 2010 and in Japan in 2011 are but a few examples of pain the next generation has seen. They have been victims of signiﬁcant pain themselves—pain they did not cause. Even when they accept the fact that some of their pain was self-inﬂicted, they still want to know why God did not stop the pain that others caused and why God did not stop the pain that results from natural disasters. That is why it is important to have conversations about free will. Just as we have misused our free will, others have misused their free will as well. That freedom may cost other people dearly. Adam used his free will to bring the curse of sin on the world, which is a constant reminder of how far reaching one person’s freedom might be. While it is tempting to ask God to let us keep our free will but limit the free will of others, we know that is not realistic. Young people must be reminded of this reality on a regular basis.
A word of caution is in order. While some of the pain in our lives comes from the sins of others, we must not allow that to become an excuse for developing a victim mentality. Second Timothy 1:7 says, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (ESV). Christ came so we could ﬁnd the strength to overcome the troubles of this world. Churches need to help young people understand that while some pain is caused by the sins of others, we can overcome that pain through our faith in Christ. We do not have to live in fear. We may have been victims in the past, but through Christ, we can ﬁnd victory over a victim mentality.
Adapted from Dr. Dorsett’s book, Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church, published by CrossBooks, a division of Lifeway Christian Resources.