“I couldn’t serve a God who allows such evil and suffering. If one has the power to affect change, how could that one not use it?”
This is the argument of many when the discussion turns to the presence of evil and suffering in the world. If God is all-powerful and all loving as the Bible portrays then it does not jive with the presence of evil and suffering today. Or does it? Some would argue that if God is powerful but chooses not to help then He is not all loving. If He wants to help but cannot then He is not all-powerful.
Is it really that simple? Nothing ever is.
The truth is that the presence of evil and suffering in the world is the result of choice by both God and you. God, by His own choosing, has allowed all created thoughtful beings to have a choice. Because of the allowance of choice He took the risk of evil and suffering. If we can choose right, then we can also choose wrong. Man, by his own choosing, chooses wrong and faces the consequences of choice. Thus, evil and suffering is present because of God and Humanity.
One argument is that good and evil, light and dark, and so on are all in a balance. Because God is good there must be evil to balance: Yin and Yang. I believe both are present but not in equality as some would insist. Evil is present because of choice. Lucifer chose. Eve chose. Adam chose. You chose. I chose. There is the evil that I do. There is the evil done by others to me. One is my responsibility, the other is not.
No one likes to suffer! The issue is that we demand it removed from our lives. The problem is that suffering is a part of life, whether we want it or not. How could I know God strength apart from my weakness; His provision apart from my poverty; His compassion apart from my pain; His wisdom apart from my ignorance? All that we suffer can point us toward God, if we let it.
Not Everyone is Ready for the Truth
Every time I think about this my mind goes to Jack Nicholson screaming at Tom Cruise . Often when people are in pain or suffering, they are not ready to hear the truth but need to feel the love of God through you. Please don’t use these statements.
- God works things out for good…
- It will all work out
- God has a reason and you must trust
- What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
- There is a purpose for this you will see
When we do it makes us and God look hateful and mean. Instead, just listen and love for a while. When the time is right, the Holy Spirit will lead you to share more. Resist the urge to pontificate and just be polite.
Why Do We Suffer?
The Bible does give us a few reasons, when we are prepared to hear them, as to why we experience suffering.
- For our own sake. As mentioned earlier, how could we know God apart from our predicaments? We learn who God is (Psalm 46) and to trust Him more (2 Cor 1:8-9). We learn to obey God and become more like Jesus (Romans 8:18-29). We mature (Hebrews 12:1-11).
- For the sake of others. At times, God allows us to grow through difficult times because he wants to reach a lost world or encourage brothers that surround you. Allowing you to go through something for this reason shows great confidence that God has in you. Because of how you will react, the Gospel can be seen by others. The power of transformation that has occurred in your life will shine bright in dark places. (Phil 1:14 and 2 Cor 4:7-12)
- To share in the sufferings with Christ. The mini-series Band of Brothers expresses the truth here. These men bonded together partly because of being placed in the same division. Yet, the strength of their bond increased as they suffered together. There is no better way to stay bonded with Jesus better than to share in suffering with and for Him. (Phil 3:9-10)
Dealing with evil and suffering is about perspective. We don’t have God’s, so we must trust Him. Will you?