If God is so awesome, then why is there suffering in the world?
We here all the time how loving and caring God is. How he wants the best thing for us, but not just for us, for everyone! But how can this be? There is heaps of crazy bad stuff, crazy sad stuff and crazy crazy stuff that happens in our world all the time! So how do we justify that with a loving God?
This question has without a doubt kept more people away from the Church then any other question ever. There is something about our innate sense of justice that just cringes when we see some of this stuff happening in the world.
At this point it is important to say that any answer to this question, however correct and logical it may be, won’t actually do anything for a broken heart. When you’re grieving you don’t necessarily a word of cold hard logic. You just want a hug. That is probably what we need to do as Christians when we are comforting someone. Even though they may be sad and angry, they more just need to be heard, rather than be told in hard common sense, the reality of God.
So with that in mind! What can we say about all this suffering? Often this dilemma is called the Problem of Evil. In the Problem of Evil, there are two types of evil that we can distinguish.
The first is that of Natural Evil which includes things like earthquakes, floods, fires etc. But this is probably a bit of a harsh term because none of these things are strictly ‘evil’. They just do what they do! But it is true that they do inflict pain as we often find that humans get in the way of these things. So why doesn’t God stop these things from happening and save the millions of lives that could be saved? That sounds like something God would do! We do know that God has the power to be able to intervene, so why doesn’t he?
One of the things about our universe is that it is governed by laws and rules that dictate how nature behaves. Occasionally these laws will mean that a tsunami might be caused. If God intervened every time a natural disaster happened, we would no longer be able to count on those laws which has large consequences for how we do science (in that we couldn’t do it at all). The second part is that, why stop there? If God were to intervene in those cases, we shouldn’t he intervene in all cases that cause human suffering? Well if he were to do that than we would have no choice in whether we believe in him or not! God is all about not imposing himself on us and giving us the free choice to choose him or not.
Phew! That was a big one.
The second type of evil could be called Human Evil. We know this one pretty well. It’s where we stuff it up. We hurt people all the time. Sometimes we do it in little ways and sometimes in really big ways. This is part and parcel of being allowed to have the freedom we have. Sometimes we use it poorly and selfishly. The alternative to this reality is that we walk around as amoral robots just doing stuff and not knowing if it is good or bad. But that isn’t what God wants for us! He wants us to be able to choose him and choose life and choose love because that is the best thing we can do with our lives.
So yes, a lot of pain occurs in our world and sometimes it can seem insurmountable. But thank goodness that we have the ability to choose to love those around us and be with each other when the tough times come.