I recently shared with my sister a blog my pastor had written concerning God and the suffering in this world.
I was excited about this blog because my sister had told me just two weeks earlier that she can not honor or follow a God that allows innocent children to suffer horribly.
You know the debate… “How can God be all powerful and loving, yet allow the horrors of disease, war, famine, and natural disasters?” If “God is good all the time” – as the song says…then how come there is so much suffering in this world?
In response, Pastor quoted verses from Job that expressed Job would rather die than continue suffering;
“Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” (Job 3:20-23)
Pastor brought up a great point. He said,
“…we must remember where suffering came from. It actually came from us. When humanity rebelled against God and chose to rule the world in our own wisdom apart from God, the earth and our labors were cursed. …under man’s care apart from God…Weeds began to grow and choke out nutritious plants. Viruses and bacteria mutated into harmful diseases. People no longer provided themselves with the proper nutrition and habits that promoted optimal health. Jealousy and carnal appetites drove humanity to murder, rape, slavery and host of other cruel sins. Earth itself began to quake and unleash cataclysmic disasters upon man.
“Humanity’s choice to call the shots and be like God has had horrendous effects …ever since. If we want to understand suffering, then we must understand that …Humanity brought on its own suffering through our rebellion against God, which started in the Garden of Eden.”
Pastor summed that up suggesting “Perhaps God allows suffering to emphasize the horror of sin and our desperate need of Him. Maybe that’s one reason God allows suffering.”
Great point. Man made a decision to be independent, run his own life outside of God’s direction and guidance. As a result, without a recognized higher power to look up to – or submit to – Man starts in with all those human things – trying to be top dog over each other, etc.
So in deciding to rebel, Man brought in sin and all that comes with it. In greed, pride, self-indulgence… Man’s desire to be a top dog over everyone else means that innocent people will get hurt.
God wants better for us, but he gave us Free will, even though that Free will pains him to watch
The next point Pastor brought up was even better. We are asking why God allows children to suffer horribly, or any innocent for that matter.
Yet Jesus, his son – an innocent whom he could have intervened for – suffered horribly before his death. Jesus – who actually told God the Father in the garden that he really didn’t want to do this.
God so loved the World that he sent his only Son….
Jesus’ purpose from the very beginning was to be our sacrificial lamb, the only way through which we could reconcile with the father and come back into relationship with Him. Jesus died for our sins.
But along with being the promised sacrificial lamb, was Jesus’ horrible death – Jesus who was completely innocent of sin – meant to show us that God the Father, who loves us so much and hates to see our suffering…was willing to …partake in the suffering with us? To cry with us?
Did Jesus come in the flesh and die suffering as he did – as a way to show us that God is walking with us in the pain, knows how it feels, and that He is suffering with us?
In other words, suffering is all about our own sin….a progressive result of ignoring God’s guidance. The children are suffering as a direct result of human rejection of God and His wisdom…they are suffering because of our selfishness and lack of compassion for each other. Not God’s.
Is it not about God allowing suffering, but about God allowing Man Free Will?
My sister shot the explanation down with one crisp sentence;
“So if God has a non-interference policy, then having a God is exactly the same as not having a God.”
But… it’s not a non-interference policy. Jesus healed much suffering. But she’s right in that…for some, the suffering continues despite much prayer.
Sigh. Okay…so…next question…”Why God answers some prayers to alleviate suffering, and not others? .