Why Suffering and Evil?
Have you ever heard these Objections to Belief in
"I can’t believe in God because of all the suffering and evil in this world."
"How can there be a good God when there is suffering and evil in this world?"
The following addresses these questions from the perspective of the Bible:
We all question the existence of pain, suffering, or evil, especially when it directly affects us, our immediate family, and close friends. How many times do we ask “Why” in the face of serious illness or death? However, to blame God for this situation shows a complete misunderstanding of the God described in the Bible, and a misunderstanding of mankind’s current dilemma.
The God of the Bible
The Bible describes a God who created a world that initially was perfect in every way with human beings who experienced no pain, no suffering, no death, no evil. The Bible also describes God’s final plan for heaven and earth at the end of time, as a place where there is no suffering, pain, death or evil.. So God’s continuing intention for this world, and for humanity, was, and will be, exactly what we would all want, no pain, no suffering, no death, no evil. So what happened? If God’s desire for humanity is no pain, no suffering, no death, then we are forced to conclude that something else is responsible for the pain and suffering and death that we experience.
The Wrong Choice and its Consequences
The Bible teaches that God gave the first human beings certain rules to live by in their perfect environment. God explained what they should do and what they should not do. Then He gave them the freedom of choice and He identified the consequences of making the wrong choice. Then He waited to see how they would choose.
At this point another created Being, Satan, appears and encourages the first humans to question God’s commands, and promises them benefits from disobeying God’s commands. The allure was too great, they made the wrong choice, and God’s promised consequences came into play. From then on their lives would be marked by the principle of Death, with its accompanying pain and suffering. And they now were aware of both Good and Evil. God had honored their choice and He was true regarding the consequences.
Death at Work
God’s statement to the first pair of humans regarding the fruit of a certain tree was “in the day that you eat of it you will surely die.” They ate and eventually they died. If they hadn’t eaten, they would have lived forever. The consquence of their disobedience was that Death was now operational in their bodies.
Death became operational not only in those first human beings, but its effects could now be transmitted to future generations through the human genome. Mutations are problem areas, deficiencies in the genetic code and they result in negative consequences to the human organism. These negative effects were now able to multiply across future generations. How much of the sickness that we humans experience results from deficiencies transmitted genetically? Science is just beginning to understand the magnitude.
The Inherited Curse
The curse which fell upon our first parents, Adam and Eve, was not restricted to them only. Every individual born thereafter was born under the same curse, not only because of the genetic connection to Adam and Eve, but because every individual since has made the same fatal choice, choosing his or her own way instead of God’s way, and as a result suffers the same consequences. One of their sons, Cain, murdered his brother Abel in a rage of jealousy. And the curse continues to be inherited and chosen by every person in every generation.
So does this mean that God is to blame because we humans we chose a different path. Hardly. That would put us in the position of blaming Him for giving us the freedom of choice. God’s character and His intentions for the world(humanity) have not changed. We are the ones who decided to take a different path, a path of disobedience, death, and one which includes both good and evil.
The God of this World
The Bible teaches that God’s Plan for a perfect world/humanity has been temporarily hijacked by a counterfeit god known as Satan. Just as Satan introduced our first parents to disobedience, death and evil, he continues his counterfeit plan of deceit to this present day. Satan has different aliases given in the Bible. He is known as “the god of this world,” “the deceiver,” “an angel of light,” “the evil one,” “the prince of the power of the air.” Before we blame God for the injustices we experience, we need to consider the role of this Evil One in the world.
The Bible teaches that there is a continuing battle being waged in the unseen environment that surrounds us. This battle is between the Evil One’s forces of spiritual darkness and the forces controlled by God. Satan’s mission is the same. He continues to deceive individuals into rejecting God. He blinds them to the true Light. He probably has some control over the circumstances of individual’s lives, as he did over Job in the Bible.
Does the existence of Satan mean that God is no longer in charge? Not at all. Satan’s authority is only temporary. One day he will be stripped of that temporary authority by God.
The True God
God has not given up on his original intention for mankind. In spite of mankind’s choice to listen to Satan rather than God, God has mounted a counter offensive in order to defeat Satan’s control over the world. The whole narrative of the bible describes this initiative by God to “buy back” to “redeem” to “reconcile” wayward mankind with Himself, and to destroy the work of Satan. The center figure in this initiative is Jesus Christ, who by His death, burial, and rising again, has defeated all the powers of Satan.
God is giving each of us a second choice. Each of us made the wrong choice initially. Now He asks us to choose again, based upon the work which Jesus Christ has completed. Choosing God through Jesus Christ breaks the power which Satan has over an individual and gives the individual a new life, a new power for living, and a new connection to God.
In addition, God has promised that those who choose Him through Jesus Christ will have everlasting life. For them the original curse of Death will be broken and they will inherit a future life with God, a life without pain, without death, without suffering, and without evil.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3: 16
Another site that addresses this topic can be found at: http://www.answers.org/theology/suffering.html