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If God is all-loving, why is there suffering?

The question of why God allows suffering is not always easy for Christians to answer. If it were, the answer would come across as apathetic and heartless. The truth is, God also hates suffering and has a plan to get rid of it completely. So, when we wonder why God doesn't eradicate suffering, we must first remember that He will. Yet, we're still left with the question: why does God allow suffering to exist today?

One of the main reasons so many find the existence of suffering in God's creation so problematic is that it seems unjust. This is why the question before us is often phrased: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? We wonder why creatures that deserve happiness get the opposite. The truth is, however, (if this hurts your pride, it only proves the point) that we humans are not good people. If we were, it would be completely unjust of God to permit suffering in our world. We have all pridefully rejected God and His ways. We have all selfishly sought our own way over His. We human beings are like factories of evil. Every time we fail to love God and others to any degree, our evil is surfacing. It would be wrong for a perfectly good God to sustain a perfect environment for evil-producing creatures. Suffering is a deserved consequence of sin.

Some might feel the answer given so far is an adequate justification for God permitting thorns and thistles, but not extreme acts of evil like the Holocaust. They're right to feel the injustice of such tragedies. It should not have happened. Yet it did. It is part of the story of reality, a reality initially created by God. Why? Well, firstly, we must know that injustice is a sin. God does not permit or give the thumbs up to it. It only exists because human beings are free agents with the opportunity to disobey God. Without the chance to do evil we could never choose to do good. The Nazis show what happens when we defy God's commands and the tragic consequences of their evil actions were sadly experienced by many. When I say 'sadly', God shares that sorrow (John 11:35).

What do people wish God did instead? Perhaps God could have stepped in and wiped out the Nazis. This would have been wonderful. And again, this is the final result. Every Nazi will stand before God on judgment day and face the consequence of their sins (unless they turned to receive Jesus, who faced the ultimate consequence of sin, death, in place of all who believe in Him). The problem is: God knows that each one of us is deserving of this. We all deserve to be wiped out. I may not have been in charge of a concentration camp, but I have hated and produced heaps of evil in my life. If they deserve to be wiped out, so do I.

So, what could God do? Well, He could have ended the world before the Holocaust. The problem then arises that people like us may never have been born or given the chance to live forever. The longer God delays, allowing more free agents to live, the more people will suffer and the more will have the opportunity to live forever! This sounds like a dilemma and it is one every potential parent faces. When your parents brought you into the world, they knew you would suffer, but they wanted you to have the gift of life. They felt that life was worth all the struggles that come with it. God is doing the same, choosing to allow suffering because life is worth the cost.

So, yes, suffering is a cost. It isn't good. No parent wants their child to suffer. God hates suffering and will soon rid the world of it all. However, suffering could only exist without sin, and being free agents, we can only blame ourselves for the sin we have committed and the suffering we have welcomed into God's world.

 

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