Leadership, family, theology and world events
The suffering and existence of evil is the biggest objection to the existence of God in the western world. The logic behind it: in the light of the sufferings you should either assume that God is a despot that takes pleasure in your suffering or He is not Almighty, or He doesn’t exist at all. Yet, it is kind of ironic that for the western world this is a #1 issue, and in the third world countries, torn by war regions, and countries under totalitarian regimes, don’t bother with it as much as the West. It would be understandable if people who suffer ask this question, and have doubts, and not the well-fed ones who know about suffering from the news.
We cannot explain each individual case. And the “apologists” who think they always know “why God did it, or let it happen” not only give too simplified, short-sided rationalizations, but also dare to speak about things God didn’t explain. We don’t have all the answers, but the Bible lends some insight on the existence of suffering.
The first argument is so outrageously foreign to our western minds. The Bible has this colorful portrayal on God’s authority over people: “does not the potter have a right over the clay” Romans 9:21. The notion that God, Creator of the whole universe has rights to do, what He wants should be an argument, but in our society it is on defense. The same people who believe women may rid off unborn babies, that the government has the right to execute some criminals, and that our society authorized to set norms and limitations, are the very same people who are depriving the Creator’s rights to rule over His creation. But if God is the one who He said He is: The One who created everything out of nothing, than He has more authority than parents, government and a society combined. He has the ultimate and unlimited rights.
Going on further, He doesn’t have even to explain Himself. Yes, He does explain a lot to us in the Bible: His plan, His intentions, His heart, etc. But there is no moral obligation for a creator to explain himself to his creation.
Being the dad of three kids, I hear “it is not fair,” often. Fairness according to children, and…. well….to all of us, means that there is always an excellent reason for all the good things that happens to us, and always a lack of justification for any bad things. Somehow we got this notion, deep inside of us, that we morally deserve good things, we deserve to be ahead of others, to be chosen when others are left behind. But we never, ever deserve to be mistreated, left behind or go through the sufferings.
God is “pro-choice”. He gave humans the rights to have the free choice. But free choice means the potential to choose evil; otherwise it would not be a free choice. However, the consequence of choosing evil is suffering. Some might say, why would God give people the option to choose evil? Well, if you can only choose good moral, but not evil, then it is not a real choice. It’s not logically possible to have free will and no possibility of moral evil. That’s what free will means. Without free will, we are not human.
Real love of God and others involve a choice. Every time we use force to prevent evil, you take away freedom. To prevent all evil, you must remove all freedom and reduce people to puppets, which means they would then lack the ability to freely choose love.
A lot of suffering are results of our wrongdoings, or not acting in defense of others.
…I want to ask God why He allows suffering
…But, I am afraid that He will ask me the same question
“For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.” Dederonomy 15:11.
We don’t know why all those people where poor, but people with the means have been tested as well as we are today of what we will do about it. The idea of personal responsibility to help, to intervene during someone’s suffering doesn’t revolve around one Bible verse. Numerous direct teachings and examples state we are obligated to intervene, and we will be judged upon it. God has put a responsibility on us to help the needy, not to philosophize ‘why God let this happen’. Perhaps they lack so we will do something? Or they struggle on account of our neglect.
Criticizing God for not fixing something now, is like getting halfway through a novel and criticizing the author for not resolving the conflict. Yet God will judge all people, not just those that we think deserve punishment. We have to understand that the Judge won’t evaluate us on our value system, but His. In God’s eyes, an abortion doctor will not be in a better position than a murderous gang member.
The popular phrase and attitude: “if it makes you happy…”
Can anything good result of suffering? Certainly there are times when God allows suffering and deprives us of the lesser good of pleasure in order to help us toward the greater moral good and spiritual education. A suffering free, hakuta matata life is the dream in the western world. But then why are we willing to go thru temporary anguish to later reward ourselves whether in: medical procedure, dieting, work, exercise, school, all to obtain long-lasting benefits.
The point of our lives in this world isn’t comfort, but training and preparation for eternity. Jesus learned obedience through suffering, why shouldn’t it be even more so for us? “In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth, a life full of the most atrocious tortures on earth, will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.” Mother Teresa:
Some think that God’s solution to suffering is the blessings in the afterlife. I think God has something better, something for today. It is Jesus Christ.
God didn’t leave humanity alone do deal with the consequences of wrong choices, neither He deprived us the rights to choose evil. He did something else, He sent His son Jesus to bear the burden of the sin (read: consequences of wrong choices). If we really want to help someone we have to give something valuable: time, money, effort or to say ourselves. We cannot deprive them from the ability to make choices, even wrong choices. But we can intervene in their distress. That is what God did, He gave us more than we can imagine, He gave His son.
Understanding the consequences of free will, we realize why evil exist. But seeing Jesus on the cross we understand God does care about our suffering and He has done something about it.