One of the most common misunderstandings people have about God is on the question of suffering. If God is such a loving God, why is there so much suffering in the world? Why do innocent people suffer? Why does it often seem like the evil people in the world seem to get blessed while the good people get cursed? If God is so powerful and so great, how can he sit by and allow all of this suffering to continue? Why doesn’t he do something about it?
All of these questions are good questions. They are logical questions. There is only one problem with them though. They come from the limited perspective of the human being and not from God’s perspective of love AND justice. Answering the question of suffering is more complicated than it might at first seem. We’ll take a crack at it but if I don’t answer your questions fully, please consider leaving a comment below and we can explore it in more detail.
We Human beings aren’t as Innocent as We Seem
We tend to look at people and evaluate them based on our limited human wisdom. We assume that everyone starts with a clean slate at birth. That babies who haven’t done anything yet in their life are therefore good and innocent and therefore undeserving of any evil or bad that may come their way. That isn’t what the Bible teaches. In fact, because of Adam and Eve’s sin and the fact that all humanity are descendants of them. I’ve written previously about how we all share in the curse of sin. Human beings share in the condemnation that fell on Adam and Eve as a consequence of their disobedience. As a direct result, no human being with the exception of Jesus Christ has lived a life of no sin. We all have within us a sinful human nature that is corrupt and incapable of pleasing God.
Consider a baby. Is a baby naturally selfless or selfish? Does it have the capacity to think about the needs of its mother and to deny itself for the good of its mother? Of course not. What about toddlers? Do they naturally know how to share and be humble? No. Does it get better as we age? Do we get less selfish with age or do we learn better ways of managing our inappropriate feelings and actions? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why we humans cannot control ourselves from being selfish and looking out for number 1? It’s because of our sinful human nature.
It’s Your Choice, I Won’t Force You!
God never resorts to brute strength to get us to do something. He is love. If you want probably the best description in the Bible on what God’s love looks like, read 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. God isn’t like us. He doesn’t think like us or act like we would. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9.
Consider this. If God intervened every time someone hurt another person, would you and I have freedom of choice? Would be free? You know we wouldn’t.
Is there no justice? God says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” – Romans 12:19. All the evil, wicked things done in this world will eventually be punished.