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How can there be a God if there is so much suffering?

There is a difference between asking 'How can there be a God of love when there is so much suffering?' and the other question 'Why doesn't God stop all the suffering?' The first question is asking for proof of God's existence, whilst at the same time suggesting that suffering, in and of itself, is the evidence that God doesn't exist. The second question however, deals with the comprehension of God's ways. It doesn't deny God's existence, but it does question why he allows suffering. In effect it's saying, 'God I don't understand you!' In this section I will be dealing strictly with the first of those questions.
How can there be a God of love if there is so much suffering?
This is a common argument used by atheists to support their claim that there is no God. But is it a fair argument? For, if suffering is used as evidence to disprove the existence of a loving God, then equally any good that happens in the world ought to be used as an evidence to support that there is a loving God. I think you would agree that this is not a very realistic measurement for judging God's existence.
The atheist doesn't have to worry about this question for no-one will ask him for an answer, and probably many wouldn't even like the answer that he gave anyway. And yet people do want to have some kind of an answer to this question. There is something inside us that makes us feel that things aren't how they should be, that suffering is unfair, and that if it is unfair then someone ought to take the blame.
But if there is no God then who have you to blame?
I remember once speaking to a man who was very angry because I told him that I believed in God. He said, 'How can you say there is a God when children die?' I said to him, 'OK let's say there isn't a God - so who are you left to be angry with?' He looked at me and said, 'Well God's allowing all this war and all this.' I stopped him and said, 'But if there is no God - who can you be angry with?' He thought for a moment and realised that most of the suffering he witnessed was directly attributed to humans being selfish, greedy, or cruel to each other. He realised that you cannot be angry with someone who doesn't exist! If there is no God then you and I are probably only a sack of chemicals that got here by accident, therefore any suffering is either due to 'nature taking its course', 'survival of the fittest', or human greed and cruelty.
If there is no God then suffering is all the more helpless, hopeless and pointless
Leonard Griffiths illustrated this very point in his book 'Barriers to Belief' when he wrote the following: 'To remove God from the picture does not solve your problem of pain and suffering and death, it simply intensifies the emptiness and fearfulness of it. For example, imagine a child dying of cancer in a hospital bed, lonely, unloved and un-cared for, nothing is more terrible to imagine. But now imagine that same scene but this time with a mother present, bending over the child, entering into its suffering, surrounding that child with the atmosphere of love, holding onto the child's hand as the child is dying. There is no less pain, yet the mother's loving companionship makes the whole grim situation so infinitely more tolerable. It is still awful, but it is bearable because the child matters to someone, and that someone to whom the child matters to is there. You see there is something worse in life than having to suffer innocently, and that is the feeling that you have to suffer alone.' (L Griffith, Barriers to Belief (Hodder & Stoughton 1967) p. 109).
Do you see what a disgusting and dreadful hell this earth would be if it were populated by a race wholly destitute of God? Do you also see that when a man loses God, he has lost everything and he has nothing left? Without God everything is pointless and suffering is hopeless.
Thank God, suffering does not have the final word
Have you ever wondered where we obtained our sense of right and wrong, fair and unfair, the perfect and imperfect from? We are unique amongst the rest of creation in that we even think such thoughts! If, as human beings, we are all just a cosmic accident which emerged by chance from a pre-biotic soup, then surely we would never even think about suffering as being alien to how things were. Instead we would simply accept that suffering is how things have always been. Yet deep down within each of us there is a sense that pain, suffering and death are not how things should be. Where did we get that from?
The Bible says that we received this from God. We are told that as human beings we're made in the image of God (Gen 1:26,27). We received our sense of fairness and justice (or conscience) from being made in God's image. It is this aspect of us that enables us to say 'hey, this isn't fair' or to sense that 'something is wrong'. This image was tarnished when mankind rejected God, and sin and death entered our world (Gen 3ff). Sickness, sadness and death were absent from God's perfect world up until the point when man disobeyed God and as a result suffered the consequences of his rebellion. Indeed, we have been suffering ever since.
Although suffering, pain and death are realities which we all encounter on a day to day basis, God has revealed that things won't remain like this forever. Yes we are in a fallen world, rubbing shoulders daily with fallen human beings, like ourselves. But God has declared that a time is coming when the 'old order of things' will pass away and he will make a new heavens and a new earth. The old order simply means the world that we live in now, complete with the aspects that have corrupted it with sadness, misery, injustice, evil, death and above all, separation from God. That is the old order of things, but God will make a new order of things one day as the Apostle John saw when he wrote the following words:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Revelation 21:1-5)
The prospect of a new heaven and a new earth where there is no more 'death or mourning or crying or pain' would be wonderful - it would be like a dream come true. But that dream will be a reality because God will be there. For all the goodness, holiness, justice, love, joy, beauty, glory and presence of God will be there in an unprecedented way beyond the comprehension of any human being. There will be no need to rush our conversations there, for we will have all eternity to share unique fellowship with God and other believers. We will be unable to disappoint God, ourselves or others. No unkind, selfish or unhelpful thoughts will enter our minds. We will never be bored, never have an off day, never be depressed, never loose our temper, never be afraid, never be sick and never die! This is God's final word on the matter. This is God's promise - and you can hold him to his word!
Will you be there?
All that has been said about the new heavens and the new earth is true, but not everyone goes there, though everyone is invited. You see there is a price for admission. It's not a price that you can pay yourself, but rather the price has been paid for you by God when he sent his One and Only Son Jesus to die on a cross for the punishment of your sins and mine. If you want to enter God's heaven you must enter by God's way. Jesus is God's way, and there is no other. That's why Jesus himself when speaking on this very subject with his disciples said these words: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6). When a person has come to Jesus in true repentance (that means turning from everything they know to be wrong in their life and then following Jesus) and accepted him as their personal Lord and Saviour, then they will be saved and will enjoy eternal life with God. I hope and pray that you will be one of them.
Good article...I don`t believe God is exist..
2011-07-02 18:43:13
Anthony Limkutuku
Wow.. Im alright with that..
2011-07-07 14:56:18
ry2nAnthony Lim
To me one existence has to link with another existence. If one higher power, there should be even one more higher power than the first one. This tons of question, whether God exist on its own or co-exist will others or interdependent. This is the question raise up in any time.
2012-02-21 23:51:35