Why does God allow suffering?
Why Does God Allow Suffering?
One response might be to ask, “Does he?” Most people’s idea of God is a detached being with awesome power sitting outside our world, looking in. This idea leads to the conclusion that if he really did create the world then he should and could have created it as a place without suffering.
Christians believe that God, far from being detached, is present in the world today through the activity of the Holy Spirit and that, for the 33 years of the life of Jesus, he was physically present on earth. This means that God allowed himself, through his son Jesus, to suffer unimaginable pain and suffering through a bloody and unjust crucifixion in order to bring his people back to him.
Another aspect that Christians find helpful is what is known as ‘The Fall’. Whether or not you believe the story of what happened with the apple in the Garden of Eden literally or see it as an allegory, the point is that Christians believe that human beings did once have the capacity for infinite goodness and love, but threw that away because of temptation and greed. Some people have estimated that 80% of the world’s suffering today has human causes. After all, we have free will to abuse our brothers and sisters or to treat them with love.
Of course this still leaves the effects of natural disasters – “Why does God allow people to die in tsunamis?” is a reasonable question. One consequence of “The Fall” may be that creation is also compromised and not as it should be – Saint Paul talks about all creation groaning as it waits to be liberated.
Despite these pointers, there is so much that we do not understand about suffering (and life’s other big questions) and Christians look forward to the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth and when there will be no more tears or sadness. That’s called heaven.
A short article like this can only begin to explore the issue. The best way to make meaning of a question like this is to talk it through with someone. Why not come along to a service or get in touch through the Contacts page?