Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 7, 2014 2 comments

I would venture to say that this is the biggest question that many people have, both Christ followers and not. If God is so loving, why does He allow suffering in this world?

The easy answer is two words: free will. But what does that mean, and why?

Free will is the term for God allowing us, His creations, to make choices on our own. We are autonomous beings, and the God who created us does not control us. I enjoy knitting stuffed animals as a hobby, but when I create one, I still control it; it isn’t a living being that can make choices on its own. Not so with us! God created us to make our own decisions, right from the very beginning. God allowed the first humans, Adam and Eve, the choice between obeying Him and disobeying Him. He gave them one rule - don’t eat from this one particular tree (Genesis 2:16-17). They had the free will to choose what they did, so did they obey that one, single rule? Nope. You can read the full story in Genesis 3.

God is omniscient (all-knowing), so He knew ahead of time that at some point, His beloved Creation that was so good would disobey Him. So why did He even give them free will to begin with?

We know that God is a loving God, and in fact that God is love (1 John 4:7-21). There is no question in the Bible that God is good. God created us in His image, so that we could love Him. If God created us with no free will, with no choice, then we would love Him because that’s how we’re wired, not because we want to.

Have you ever seen young children get into a fight? When a parent intervenes and determines who the offending party was, it’s almost certain that they’ll say something like, “Now you say you’re sorry to her.” Does the kid do it? Yes, but usually his heart isn’t in it. He only says he’s sorry because he’s forced to, not because he truly is sorry.

That’s how it would be with us if God had not given us free will. We could only love God because we’re forced to, not because we want to. Just like with fighting children, love that’s forced isn’t really love at all. You wouldn’t want someone to love you only because they’re forced to, would you?

So free will has been explained, what about that question of why such a good, loving God allows suffering? God allows suffering because we choose to do things that cause it. Our free will allows us to make choices that disobey God, and we suffer the consequences for them. If you disobey the traffic rules choose to drive your car into another car, you will suffer the negative consequence of a smashed car and bodily injuries.

But what about bad things that happen to us, that we had no effect on? What if you’re the car that got run into, through no fault of your own?

That, too, is indirectly the result of a choice to disobey God. Before Adam and Eve sinned, creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). There was no death; no pain; no thorns and thistles even. When Adam and Eve sinned, the earth suffered the consequences too, along with humankind. Death and disease entered the world, and humans became susceptible to them.

But the fact remains that God is still good, even though His creation has been corrupted by evil. We humans have original sin, and we are continually suffering the consequences, until the day comes that those of us who believe in Jesus can join God in heaven forever.


Anonymous said...

Starving kids in Africa are due to original sin and their decision to dis-obey god.

Got it.

Charlie said...

Starving kids in Africa are due to corrupt governments and their decision disobey God. There is no such thing as a sin that affects only you. Every sin you commit, every sin I commit, impacts someone else. And if God were to act to interfere with the corrupt government's sin, he would also act to interfere with YOUR sin. Because it's all the same. Sin is sin.