Pastor, Why? #11: If There is a God, Why so Much Suffering?

Each day seems to bring a new tragedy. We hear of it daily in distant places in the news, and sometimes suffering strikes very close to home. One of the most frequent questions posed by skeptics to Christians, and one of the most common objections people give to the existence of God is this dilemma of “evil and suffering”. C. S. Lewis called pain, “Atheism’s most potent weapon against the Christian faith."

God is the solution,

not the

problem

Charles Darwin was raised in a religious home and even studied for the ministry, but he rejected God and Christianity after the tragic death of his beloved ten-year-old daughter. In Darwin’s own words, “This was the final death knell for my Christianity.” The argument is often framed in this manner, “If there really is a loving, all-powerful God, why does He allow evil and suffering in His world? We will seek to answer that question with Biblical and rational answers.

Suffering has a logical and Biblical explanation.

  • God created all things good (Genesis 1:31; Deuteronomy 32:4).
  • As the head of the human race, Adam’s sin affected all of his descendants (Genesis 1:26; Romans 5:12).
  • Sin corrupted and affected all of creation (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:17-18; Isaiah 24:5-6; Romans 8:22).
  • Every human descendant of Adam has chosen, like Adam, to disobey God’s commands. (Consider the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20.) We not only suffer collectively for Adam’s choices, but for our own (Romans 3:10, 22; 6:23).
  • To blame God for the consequences of mankind’s own sinful, selfish choices is gross irresponsibility.
  • This is not to say that every individual tragedy is the direct consequence of the affected person’s personal sinful choices, however every tragedy is a result of mankind’s sin, and God is not to blame. God is the solution, not the problem

Suffering serves many good purposes

  • Pain is not always a bad thing. Often it can be beneficial. For instance, pain alerts us to sickness so we will go see a doctor. Spiritually, If we never suffered from our sin disease, we would never see our need of the Great Physician or seek out His cure.
  • While pain does sometimes drive people away from God, pain often drives people toward God. We all choose to become “better or bitter” in the face of evil and suffering.
  • Suffering puts this life in perspective and places a yearning in the hearts of God’s people for “paradise”. (Revelation 21:4)
  • Suffering was a part of God’s original, eternal plan before the creation of the World. It is not an accident or afterthought. Suffering and death were the instruments God chose far in advance to bring about redemption for the human race (1 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:9).

Suffering is not an accident or after thought.

 

Suffering raises some questions we cannot answer yet. For example: “Why did God allow sin to enter the world knowing all the consequences that would follow, including the death of His own Son?” Or, “Why did God create mankind knowing most would reject Him and spend eternity in hell?”

  • “I don’t know” is a valid response when the subject is God, origins, or eternity (Isaiah 55:8-9). To dismiss “God” from the equation simply because we do not understand everything about Him is neither scientific, rational, nor reasonable. We must remember that all we can see in this life is one small piece of grand puzzle.
  • The existence of evil and suffering does not mean that God is the originator of it or cannot stop it. In fact, God will put an end to all of it one day (Revelation 21:4).
  • ANY explanation for evil and suffering, whether by atheists or Christians, must be accepted by faith. There are far more questions to which the atheist must respond with, “I don’t know”.
  • Atheism offers no satisfactory answers, raises even more questions, offers no cure and gives no hope of a better life.

 If God does not exist, then our own existence and suffering have little lasting value or purpose, and we have no real hope that emotional and physical suffering ever will be eliminated. Though we do not know all of the answers to all of the questions about God, we choose to believe that God DOES exist, that He does love us, and that one day He will end all suffering for those who trust Him for salvation.