How Can a Loving God Allow Something Like This to Author:
Russ Wise Date:6/11/2003 9:45:08 PM
How Can a Loving God Allow Something like This to Happen?
People have always questioned God’s love and mercy when evil strikes. For some, such a tragedy causes them spiritual confusion while others question their faith and fall into an agnostic state of mind. Such events even cause a nagging doubt in the minds of the strongest among us. However, God was and is not surprised at events that cause pain and suffering.
It is important for us to realize that God did not create evil; He did create the universe and the possibility of evil through his created beings. Lucifer’s rebellion put evil into motion and it would infect all of creation in time.
God is Love
God has expressed his love for mankind from the beginning. He created Adam to be the steward of all he had created. Because God loved Adam he knew that it was not good for Adam to be alone and without a kindred relationship. ‘For God so loved Adam, he gave him Eve.’ Later God was to give all of mankind the greatest gift, his Son.
Likewise, God gave Adam and Eve free will. God allowed them to be free moral agents. They were not created to be robots to do God’s bidding. They were free! Through maturity we know that freedom comes with a price. We also know that it can only be fully realized within the context of responsibility. Responsibility is the engine that allows freedom to have movement in our lives. As parents, we also know how important this lesson is to teach our children.
God’s grace and love gave us free will, to choose to honor his will or to choose our own way. You know the story; sin became a part of our lives in the most fundamental of ways; we embraced it. When we choose to act on our base desires we often do not choose God’s will in our lives. Sin is a reality. The issue is how we deal with it. Do we allow it to overtake our lives or do we seek God’s solution ¾ allow him to nail it to the cross.
Evil and the resulting suffering that accompanies it is of our own choosing. God is not the problem; we are. Our predisposition to sin causes the evil and suffering that we experience. Of course Satan has much to do with our current state. But we, as free moral agents, must accept the fall. We cannot lay it all at Satan’s feet.
Some say that suffering is the result of sin in one’s life. Maybe so! If we make wrong choices, suffering often is the result. But - what about the innocent? They suffer. And this is difficult for us to understand. However, God has his reasons. Suffering is not the result of sin in one’s life. The Gospel of John offers us a clue. The first few verses offer us God’s perspective. First, he is God. His ways are not our ways, and neither are our ways his. In other words, God has a greater purpose for us than to see to our health, wealth, and happiness. The Scripture tells us that our suffering may very well be for his interest ¾ that his works may be made manifest in us. Second, akin to God’s works being manifest within us is that he may desire to smooth our rough edges. Our personality may need some adjustment. God’s desire for us is that we become more like him ¾ more Christlike.
Much of the suffering in the world is of our own making. Yes, children suffer, they have no food, they lose mothers and fathers, but can we honestly blame God. Perhaps God expects those of us who have the means to do so to meet a need where possible. Can we feed a child, can we provide for the fatherless among us, can we, in short, be God’s hands and his feet? What is a Christian to do? I suspect we know the answer. As Cain put it so well, Am I my brother’s keeper?
The query of some regarding suffering is “does God really care?” C. S. Lewis answered this way, “The question is not ‘Why do the innocent suffer?’ but rather ‘Why don’t we all suffer more?’ ” Our rebellion would suggest that we should suffer more. We have numerous examples in the Scriptures that would lend credibility to such an expectation.
The Scriptures also tell us how we are to respond to suffering. We are to pray for those who persecute us and wrongly use us (Matt. , 44). Paul writes, “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character” (Rom. 5: 3-4). The end result of our pain and suffering is often what God desires. Testimonies abound where an individual comes to know the Savior through suffering. God has a plan and his plan is perfect. Often we do not see it through our finite eyes of understanding. We only see the suffering. The question that accompanies every episode of suffering is, Will I allow this pain to drive me to Christ for salvation and the power to be Christlike in character, or will I allow it to drive me away from him? The question always remains. The issue is our response to the suffering in our lives. Job offers us a more appropriate example. We can either choose as Job did and draw closer to God or we can do as his “friends” suggested, and curse Him.
The Scriptures indicate that God’s purpose for the creation of man was that he would serve creation. He would till the soil and have dominion over God’s created universe. Of course, man’s ultimate purpose is to worship God and serve him alone.
God gave man free will because of his great love. There is little doubt that God knew it was risky to do so. However, he freely gave us the gift. As a result of this gift God had set in motion the coming of the greatest of all gifts ¾HIMSELF. “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons of glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Hebrews offers us further hope, “For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. Because Christ, suffered and was tempted, He is able to help those who are tempted.”
Hebrews 9:23-28 gives us a strengthened hope for dealing with our fallenness. Jesus continues to intercede on our behalf before the Father that our sin might be forgiven. What a gift! Our God truly is a God of love and he is indeed merciful and full of grace.
Yes, suffering is a reality. Pain cripples the minds of those who have no hope. But we have an advocate, a holy advocate who speaks for us. Our response is to allow the rough edges to be smoothed and our character to be shaped, so that we might one day hear the words of comfort ¾ you have done well my faithful servant; enter into your reward.
This question is one that has troubled me for many years. In order to fully answer it, I have gathered material from a broad variety of sources to offer our readers the best answer I could provide. I pray that it helps!