Challenger 1: Why Does God Allow Suffering?

August 13, 2013 at 11:03 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Concept

This post is in response to an earlier post called Challenger.

By far, the most common question asked by Christians and of Christians is this: “Why would a good God allow suffering on the Earth, especially the suffering of those He purportedly loves?”

This is an extremely deep question with many facets, so I will do my best to be concise while considering several sides of the issue (though not all). In fact, I shall split this response into three parts. DISCLAIMER: I am not God. Therefore, I do not have all the answers and I can only speculate based on my knowledge of the Scriptures and the wisdom God chooses to reveal to me. I hope this discussion can be an encouragement to you, but please definitely do your own research as well.

~ Part 1~

The Problem of Evil.

The first part of the question of suffering is: Why does God allow evil in the world? Many would ask, “If God had a chance to create a perfect world, why didn’t He leave it perfect?” Or, “If God is good AND all-powerful, why does He allow evil to persist?” Some would answer that it is because God craves love and robot-love is not a veritable form. I don’t think that’s it.

God does not need our love. Let’s not minimize who He is. He already possesses the perfect love in the Trinity of His existence. Therefore, letting us “choose” Him over evil is not the reason he designed Earth this way. Suffering is not merely the result of free-will. (Otherwise how would we explain natural disasters and birth defects?)

I’m not saying that God does not want love. As He says in Hosea 6:6 “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice.” So why does God want us to love? I believe it is not for His self esteem, but for our own good. (See Matt 23:23-28.) Is it not the utmost good to desire good for others? Perhaps God desires to make love and righteousness grow from within us instead of imposing it upon us.

I know this seems to be getting off track. What does developing love have to do with the existence of evil? Let me put it this way, how do we test the mettle of a hero? If we followed a hero for a day and he spent it relaxing in the hot tub, how would we know he’s a hero? It is through a person’s facing adversity that we see what that person is made of. For us to develop the love and righteousness that God desires in us, we must face adversity as well.

God could easily contain or control Satan, evil, and suffering, but wouldn’t it be better if He casts it out through us by cultivating righteousness within us? God does not need to prove his perfection. He was, and is, and is to come (Rev 4:8b). So the point of history is to develop humankind. Not God. Sometimes Christians of all ages (myself included) act like my 2nd graders: they just want me to tell them the answers instead of learning the processes that will allow them to work out the answers for themselves.

This post is part 1 of 3 parts.

Feel free to share, comment, or repost. Deep discussion is good for us.

For Part 2 click here.

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14 Comments

  1. Challenger 1b: Why Does God Allow Suffering? | Awestruck Wonder said,

    […] post is in response to an earlier post called Challenger. It is Part 2. Please read Part 1 […]

  2. Mary French said,

    What do you think about the idea that even though we don’t personally choose natural disasters, they are a result of at least Adam and Eve’s free will as their sin caused not only the fall of man but the fall of creation as well?

    As far as suffering, it was brought into the world by Adam and Eve’s free choice, but God did not leave it in the world as merely pointless and useless but chose to redeem it by Christ’s death on the cross and working it towards our good. God uses it for our sanctification and never allows it to happen to us unless there is a reason, which we may not always know specifically, but we do know is for our holiness and the salvation and benefit of others. Also, our suffering can be redemptive for others if united with Christ’s suffering and offered to God on behalf of others as Paul mentions in Colossians 1:24: “Now I rejoice in the sufferings for your sake and I fill up what is lacking of the afflictions of the Christ in my flesh for the sake of his body, which is the church.”

    • haywireproductions said,

      Great comment! Thanks.
      I have heard that theory of the Fall of Creation before, and I think it has much merit. As I said, this question has so many facets, it is hard to hit on all of them! I’m working on the next part this weekend. Praying for more wisdom. I certainly don’t have all the answers, and I don’t think we will until we see God’s face!

  3. Robyn Gunderson said,

    I’d like to understand better what you mean here: “Suffering is not merely the result of free-will. (Otherwise how would we explain natural disasters and birth defects?)”

    • haywireproductions said,

      Well, some suffering is simply the result of man’s evil desires. For example, a man desires to murder his neighbor, or sleep with the wife of another. Tsunamis…they are not the result of man’s ill will, since they can neither be caused, nor controlled by man.
      Does that make sense?

  4. Anon said,

    The “tough love” argument only works if God is limited in power. If God is omnipotent, there is nothing he can not teach us gently that he can teach us harshly. If he is benevolent, than he would never choose to teach us a harsh lesson when it could be taught, with exactly the same impact, gently. Evils like rape, slavery, and genocide – which God Himself perpetrates constantly in the Bible – can’t seriously be explained away as “good for us.”

    Another problem with this argument is that although according to this argument, God wants us to grow as people by learning from our mistakes, according to most religious doctrine, he also wants worship. Worship involves complete obedience and submission, whereas learning from mistakes requires using one’s intelligence. It is contradictory to claim that God wants us to be both completely obedient and make decisions for ourselves, since complete obedience means blindly obeying authority, for example the story of Abraham and Issac (Genesis 22:1-19). Abraham was called “righteous” because he blindly obeyed God’s command to murder his son. The fact that God stopped Abraham before the knife fell means nothing – even if he had allowed the murder, Abraham would still be called righteous for obeying God’s command.

    • haywireproductions said,

      Dear Anon,
      Before I respond to your comment, let me explain to you how the comments work on this blog. Each comment must be viewed by an admin (in this case, me) and approved individually. [This protects users from spam and obscenity.] As I do have to live life outside my blog, there may be times when your comment does not get approved immediately. This does not mean that you have to be so rude as to continually spam me with conceited comments about why your opinion has not been posted. I have approved only the first of your comments. Please don’t do this again.
      Secondly, you keep calling this an argument. This is not an argument; it is a discussion. The difference being that one is purposed toward proving a single point, while the other is designed to develop understanding on both sides. I noticed you did not care to reach the bottom of the comment-conversation on the previous post. If it is argument you seek, please look elsewhere, for that is not this blog’s intention.

      That being said, I would still like to address the concerns you expressed.
      The main thing that needs to be understood is that worship and intelligence are not mutually exclusive. There is a defining distinction between blind, mindless obedience and worship:
      faith.
      Faith is basically trust. Faith is not based on ignorance; it is based on precedent. In the case of God, I can base my faith on His history. He has always done what He said He would do. Sometimes it took hundreds of years, but He has fulfilled His promises. In other words, I trust what God is doing in the present because I have seen what He has done in the past. Abraham trusted God as well. “He considered that God was able even to raise [Isaac] from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Heb 11:19). So yes, Abraham was “completely obedient,” but he did “make decisions for himself” at the same time. He chose to trust God’s plan.

      The first paragraph of your concern will be addressed in Part 2 of the post, which is still in the works. So thank you for your patience.

      • haywireproductions said,

        Hmm… Looks as though WordPress no longer notifies the user that a comment is being moderated. This is bothersome. I do apologize that you felt unfairly deleted. Now you know, though: Comments don’t show up on the public thread until they are approved.

        • Anon said,

          You’re making an argument against the problem of evil by engaging in apologetics, so I’m not sure why that was a problem. Looking forward to Part 2.

        • haywireproductions said,

          I understand how you might see it that way, but I am not “engaging in apologetics” for the sake of “argument.” I am attempting to open the door to a discussion about topics which Christians find hard to discuss. I meant what I said: that deep discussion is good for us. For whatever reason, we don’t engage in it as often as we should.

          What I wanted to communicate is this: if you are following this blog just for argument’s sake (rather than the sake of a deeper understanding), this is not the place. If you are truly interested in working out difficulties (not just pointing them out), then please DO stay connected.

          Make sense?

        • Anon said,

          Also relevant! http://youtu.be/Qzf8q9QH

          Still looking forward to what you think about Part 2.

        • haywireproductions said,

          That depiction of God makes Him seem unsure about everything. That’s not accurate. Our account of creation says that God saw everything He had made and it was good (Gen 1:31).

        • Anon said,

          Okay, then he was sure about all of those fantastically evil things. Not really helping your case.

        • haywireproductions said,

          I already addressed this in the above entry. He knew what evil things would come. He could see all of time at once. He also knew how evil will end and He decided to work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).

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