Why God allows suffering in the world
I wonder what made you look at this subject. It is not altogether a topic that human beings want to dwell on but unfortunately, or fortunately, it will touch all of our lives at some point.
Could I reasonably assume that because you are on this website you are looking to scripture to give answers? If so, we would indeed need to start at the very beginning back in Genesis.
When God purposed to create our world, the last thing he wanted was automatons, and so for his pleasure and in his wisdom he gave mankind choices (Genesis 2:16).
I am sure we can all relate to the pleasure of having a child make the right choice against the need to be TOLD what to do. However, there was a problem right from square one when Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden got it wrong. Just look at the consequences that developed from disobedience: “To the woman God said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’ And to Adam he said, ‘… cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ ” (Genesis 3:16-19 ESV)
In this day and age we understand more about genetics and know that family traits can easily be identified, and so thousands of years later the punishment that befell Adam and Eve has been handed down to us.
You can probably see from the few verses you have read in Genesis that life was no longer going to be idyllic, and we now all face the prospect of death, the ultimate punishment: “You shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19) We have roughly 70 years in which to shape our lives and decide, or choose, what course to take.
How often do we get it wrong? Frequently, and so often we may think, “I should have known better.” However, suffering falls to us all, whether we are holy or unholy, and from experience we know it can be very unpleasant.
Some of the great characters in scripture were afflicted to the extreme: the faithful Joseph was unfairly imprisoned for years (Genesis 39:20); the trusting Job suffered crushing losses and hideous ill health (Job 2:11-13); the God-fearing apostle Paul faced many ordeals from which he barely escaped alive (2 Corinthians 11:24-31), as did many of faithful men and women.
Yet we are given the antidote: Psalm 46:1; Psalm 55. Suffering can be seen in individuals or thousands at a time. So often God is blamed, but why? In so many cases it can be seen to be man’s total mismanagement of his own knowledge and its application.
I remember well the indignation which was abounding when in 1966 there was a disaster at Aberfan, in Wales. Many lives were lost when a primary school was wiped out by a slag heap. Who created the slag heap? MEN.
To be fair we have what are termed ‘natural’ disasters in the world, but we should consider how much God allows man’s freewill to make his own problems even when it comes to our planet. We have developed so much to unbalance nature: nuclear bombs/plastics/genetically engineered food/mass waste disposal of all types of dangerous substances, to name but a few. When these things begin to touch our own lives then we begin to sit up and take notice.
WHY? Because it hurts, mentally or physically. How we deal with these things in our lives is another question. IF we have a faith that says “All things work together for good for those that love him” (Romans 8:28), we understand that, as with our own families, we sometimes have to correct to make a better person. In the same way, God will allow things to happen in our lives that we may not understand at the time to test our character. Do we put our trust in him? The answer should be yes. The apostle Paul writes: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). THANKFULLY God is compassionate and in every case death will actually END suffering for each individual. THE GOOD NEWS is that through his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, we are given a hope for the future when “there will no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4) and God’s kingdom will be established on the earth. Let us hold on to his promise (Hebrews 10:23).
If you would like to find out more about this universal human problem of suffering, please request the free booklet on the subject.
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