The atheist assumes that the Universe just exists for no particular reason. Some believe it existed forever, others say it started at the Big Bang. We’re not quite sure why the Big Bang happened, or why there were Laws of Physics around even before there was a Physical Universe – but there it is.
In any case, if the atheist is right, then Suffering doesn’t really need an explanation. It just is. It comes about because of the Laws of Physics, apparently. There is no reason for it not to be. And quite possibly, it all helps in the development of superior forms of life. Not that that really matters anyway.
The Christian, on the other hand, believes that there is an Almighty God of Love behind this Universe, who made Mankind as the central feature of His world, and loves Mankind. But how could this belief be reasonable, in the light of all the horrible things that happen to human beings?
It is important to understand that a lot of suffering is caused by the Free Will choices of human beings. But God knew this would be before He even created the world. So why did He do it?
Looking around at all this Suffering, all the emotional pain that people go through, what is remarkable is that not everyone is an Atheist! Or at least a denier of the existence of the God of the Bible.
I intend to continue this article to show why a Loving God might have a purpose after all in the kind of Scenario we find ourselves in, where people suffer terribly.
Why Does God Allow Things to Go Wrong?
It seems that the seed of corruption is in everything in this present age. What do I mean? You find a beautiful flower – but in a few days it withers and dies. Babies are mostly born beautiful, but over time it seems like a lot of us grow old and ugly as our bodies become wrinkly and break down. Selfishness occasionally mars even the best human relationships. Wild weather does damage, houses are destroyed in hurricanes and tornadoes. Business plans can go awry. Everything needs maintenance. I think you get the idea.
From God’s point of view, all these things are symptomatic of the problem. The root problem, from God’s point of view, is that we ourselves are corrupted by the power of sin, and this sin destroys our communication with God. We think wrongly, we have the wrong attitude towards God and others and even when we see this, we seem powerless to change it. Furthermore, to a greater or lesser extent, we have all offended God by our attitude towards Him and His Word. We have offended an Infinite Majesty.
God actually made us to enjoy Him. But when all is going well, most of us prefer to keep God at bay. We don’t want His interference. We distrust Him. We don’t pray earnestly, or seek out His instruction.
God, knowing that the end of sin is corruption and destruction, is working to correct this problem. Of course, because God has given us Free Will, we might not in fact ever respond correctly to God’s efforts to get us to stop and reconsider. In the Book of Revelation we see God sending horrible judgments upon the people of the earth for their sin. But instead of reconsidering and turning back to God, the people continue to blaspheme and curse the God of Heaven. If the Bible is right, then there will come a time when few people will be Atheists per se. Yes, men will acknowledge the existence of the God of the Bible – and they will HATE Him. In this they adopt the attitude of the evil spirits which they have allowed to enter them and pervert their beings into something which is abhorrent to a Holy God.
Still, some people do reconsider and turn to God when faced with difficulties. Suffering can make us bitter, or it can make us better. It depends on our response. Yet, if wicked people who basically ignore God’s claims were permitted to have a life of uninterrupted happiness, it is unlikely that many of them would ever repent – that is, turn back to God.
I think this is one of the reasons why God permits suffering. Suffering teaches us that there is a problem. Suffering teaches us that this world does not offer what our souls were made for. We need the Eternal God actually. Suffering also has the capacity to teach us love and compassion for others. It can make us better people.
Suffering also teaches us to PRAY. Now if people learn to pray the prayer of faith, they are certainly going to get results. Many pray earnestly without doing it from a place of solid assurance that God is giving what they are asking. They may hope He will, but they don’t have the assurance. This is not faith. God does not promise to answer prayers that have no faith in them. But how do we get faith? The Bible says that it comes through listening to the preaching about Jesus Christ. It also comes through obedience to God’s leadings, and God’s explicit instructions in His Word. You and I can get faith, but sometimes we have to shut up and become as little children first. It is this humility and child-likeness that God is pleased to honor.
The Bad Choices and Systems of Men Cause Suffering
We can of course account for a lot of suffering by looking at man’s choices, and the evil systems men have set up. Apart from these sinful systems, the world God entrusted us with to look after has more than enough resources for all the billions of people to live like millionaires. Instead, because of greed, people starve in some nations while food is dumped in the sea in other places in order to keep the prices higher for maximum profit. If inventions are made to provide inexpensive energy solutions, greedy power companies or oil companies will buy the patents or kill the inventors in order to maintain their positions of power. Pharma companies do all they can to prevent the knowledge of unpatentable natural cures from being utilised – again in the interests of profit. War is another huge source of suffering for humanity. It is contended by many that most wars are planned by Greedy Bankers. If not Bankers, then leaders inspired by demonic philosophies and/or religions have gone to war for various evil motives and caused huge suffering. Adolph Hitler was one such example of a demon-inspired leader who caused millions of deaths and much suffering. It is interesting that Hitler was an occultist who dabbled in practices clearly forbidden by God as satanic.
Satan and Demons Oppress Men
Ever since mankind chose to listen to the serpent over the voice of God, we’ve got people who by their sins are giving Satan and his demons or fallen angels power to influence world affairs and even right down to the personal level where we live. Its hard to do justice to this topic in this short article. But I would like to say that many of the horrible oppressive things that happen to people in their bodies, in their minds, in their relationships and in the wider sphere are due to the direct action of evil spirits. Thankfully the believer in Christ has power to defeat these demons in local skirmishes, but the fact remains that these demons tirelessly work to deceive, harrass, torment and enslave mankind as much as they can – bringing with all this a LOT of suffering.
What About Natural Disasters?
But human choices and the work of demons do not account for all the suffering that is. Sometimes, natural disasters occur. It is possible that some “natural disasters” are now engineered by high tech military programs like HAARP (google it), but even if this is the case, no one could say that this has always been the cause of natural disasters.
The Bible teaches that Creation itself has been subjected to the bondage of corruption because of man’s sin. The idyllic conditions experienced by man in his pre-fallen state no longer exist. We must remember that God does not owe anybody life or a living. Saints and sinners alike are not promised a tomorrow, or a pain-free existence. The corruption of Nature still impacts us. To what extent these natural disasters are a direct response by God to the sins of men in a particular area could only be known by Special Revelation – and could always be disputed by others. All we know is that this world – including Nature itself – has been gravely impacted by the betrayal of man – God’s vice-regent on earth, to whom the dominion over the earth was given.
What Can Be Done?
You can always choose to hate God and blame Him for all the evil. But that would be an unwise choice. We have all participated in the kinds of things that are worthy of condemnation by a Holy God. Actually, we should learn to be GRATEFUL for all the good things we do receive – even though our enjoyment of these things is often punctuated by painful suffering.
A better thing to do is to trust your eternal soul in God’s hands. And trust Him for your provision in this life also, while making use of the things He has already given you. We should know that we are fallible beings in a fallen world – and we need God’s help. Learn to pray the prayer of faith. Learn to take hold of the promises of God by faith. Be reconciled to God – because God sent Jesus to die to make that possible for you and for me. At least that way you can have the best possible outcome that yet remains to you.