Reasons for Having Faith
Part 6 of 7
The Problem of Pain
If God exists, why doesn’t He get rid of all pain and suffering? He certainly could perform miracle after miracle, nipping each eruption of pain, suffering, and evil in the bud. Or He could do a major miracle and get rid of it all in one fell swoop.
If God is not all-loving or is not all-powerful, it stands to reason there’s pain and suffering; He either doesn’t care or can’t do anything about it if He does care. But if God is all-loving and all-powerful, why is this such a hurting world? That’s the traditional way of expressing the problem of pain and suffering.
Sometimes when people face tragedy or suffering they wonder if they’re being punished. The reality is that pain and suffering is the common experience of all people of all time, both good and bad. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33) If you study the great characters of the Bible you’ll find that they all faced much grief and suffering, many times the result of doing the right thing and being obedient to God.
It has been estimated that something like 90% of the pain and suffering in this world is due to people hurting people. Think of war and the uncounted numbers who flee from war, displaced, hungry, and homeless. Think of the selfishness that results in economic injustices. Think of the robberies, murders, and rapes. Think of the hurt we cause each other in our relationships, particularly those nearest to us and those we love the most. God gets blamed for a lot that’s not His fault!
If God controlled all human behavior we would be puppets, not people. The freedom to do loving acts toward one another and to please God only have meaning if we have the option to not do loving acts and to do evil. Evil, pain, and suffering are the price of having free choice.
Yes, suffering is also caused by earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. Such natural disasters are even called acts of God, but God can’t be blamed for all the harm they cause. The Bible indicates that this is a fallen world, that because of the free choice of people to turn away from their Creator creation itself has been profoundly affected in negative ways.
Pain and suffering are an unavoidable part of the human condition, but we have a God-given choice as to whether it will make us bitter or better. It can drive us from God or to God. We often can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond to it.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)