Why would a loving and holy God allow a child to suffer through a serious illness such as cancer? by Margaret Mohrmann (Grad '95) iStock Photo. For many, this is a question that lies at the root of human existence. Saint Paul wrote: "all things work together unto good to them that love God" (Rom 8:38). And for others this answer may only exacerbate the sense of meaninglessness of the suffering. The truth is that decision is ours to make, any punishment we receive from God is our own choice. "It's the Devil's doing blah blah blah." Thousands are killed in a terrorist attack. The Word of God also teaches that evil will not go unpunished. Why wouldn't God stop this pain and help me? If it truly is Satan's doing, why doesn't God just zap him away? The book of Job deals with the issue of why God allows bad things to happen to good people. But more than suffer LIKE US, God has also suffered FOR US. book. Mankind was blessed to live and fellowship in a beautiful garden planted by God Himself (Genesis 2:8,9). Yet as we look around our world, we see so much suffering, pain, and evil. Jesus absorbed the world’s evil, took it to the grave, left it there and rose to life again. Only in Christ do we have a God who is loving enough to suffer … This is the essence of Job’s story in the Hebrew Bible. Examining ways we make sense of evil. One day there will be justice. Whose growth in understanding could possibly require such a lesson? Copyright © 2021 by the University of Virginia Magazine, Beloved professor Henry Abraham dies at 98, One professor put UVA in the race for the A-bomb, or at least he tried, Center for Politics appoints first resident scholars, Experts say: Parent, but don’t manipulate, UVA moves up in national college rankings. Boundaries are good, but manipulation can have negative long-term effects on teenagers, according to new research. What bad actions could possibly justify such a punishment? For many, this is a question that lies at the root of human existence. First, He uses pain and suffering to draw us to Himself so that we will cling to Him. It’s an important question to consider, because reconciling a God of love with our real life hardships leads to an integrated life. It may also be what’s going on when a suffering person tries to rationalize the present pain by connecting it with past behavior. He does no wrong. He was abandoned by his closest friends in his hour of deepest need. The Bible tells us that God is all powerful and altogether good. 5. Answering “Why?” with “Why not?” only restates the problem. If God exists, what is he like? The Christian faith makes sense of the rawness we feel in the face of suffering because it says there is something WRONG with the world. "It's cause of Adam and Eve blah blah blah." At the heart of the Christian faith is a God who knows what it is to suffer. We choose out fate. When we refuse to acknowledge God’s truth—that no one is good, no not one (Romans 3:10)—we turn and blame God, the merciful One, who sent His Son to die in our place. It states that God’s plans are for good, not evil, for a future and a hope. But this, too, falls short in the face of certain kinds of suffering. Suffering was not part of Jehovah God’s purpose for mankind. Most of us eventually reach our own peace with the question, some with more difficulty than others. The question is an old and venerable one: If God is good, and God is all-knowing, and God is all-powerful, then why is there so much pain and suffering in the world? Good stuff right? We all have our stories. By allowing people to suffer, God is showing us that SOMETHING IS WRONG. Today we are experiencing the effects of their bad choice. And we have Scripture to prove why it is better to suffer now, than for eternity. Some may say that everything that happens to a person, including tragedies, has already been decided by God and that we can never understand why. He suffered brutality at the hands of Roman soldiers. Philosophers and theologians debate this question—which they have termed theodicy—often by first looking at how we define evil. If there is a God, and God can be considered all-powerful and entirely good, why is there evil in the world? I’m sure we can all agree that a murderer has committed a moral sin, and that God did not mean for the world to look this way. So this leaves a third route: We are never going to know why. As St. Paul taught us in Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” All things do in the long run work together for good because all things will be made whole in the kingdom, where there will be no tears, no sin, and no death but only joy, gladness, goodness, and life. If God Is Good, Why Do We Suffer? The Bible and the God of Life. But God always offers us himself. In this message, Dr. Sproul examines this age-old question and comforts us that, for the Christian, God works through the tragedies of this life and uses them for our good. How do you fix a story that is broken? Jesus is described in the Bible as, ‘… a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering’ [53:3]. They don’t want to serve a God that makes them suffer! In Buddhism, to reach divinity is precisely to move beyond the possibility of suffering. Jesus ended his days on earth nailed to a cross. Saint Paul did not promise that we would be able to SEE how all things work out for good to those who trust God - only that they will. Some of them seem beyond fixing. In this life, we might never really understand why some things have happened. This is an extraordinary description of the tenderness of God and of his plans to put right all the wrongs in this world. There are several reasons the two are not mutually exclusive. Some may argue—as it unfortunately happens—that it is then the parents who deserved to watch their child suffer. As Job asks, “shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). To many, this answer may seem unappealing. There is comfort we never thought was possible. If you want to escape suffering and reject the rule of Satan, God has provided the way: through his son Jesus Christ. A small child is diagnosed with leukemia and undergoes extensive medical treatment only to die in his mother’s arms. But in no way did God originate human suffering. We have a choice to accept his plan of reconciliation through his Son Jesus. John Lennox, Professor Emeritus, Oxford University. If we turn to Him, there is strength we never thought we had. They will often quote Jeremiah 29:11 in their defense. Each day brings new tragedy. If one argues that the observers of that suffering may have learned a lot, God’s goodness is again in question. A faithful missionary family is attacked and killed by the very people they were ministering to. Many religious traditions note the lessons pain can teach. Only in heaven shall we see all things clearly, and all the reasons why (I Cor 13:12). The good news is that God did not leave us here to suffer pointlessly. God does not always offer us answers. The general argument is that, if God is good and benevolent, He would not permit innocent people to endure suffering and pain. But we have to take it in context. God seems to sit back and do NOTHING. A newlywed couple is killed by a drunk driver as they leave for their honeymoon. If there is a God, and God can be considered all-powerful and entirely good, why is there evil in the world? There will come a day when God “will wipe every tear from” our eyes and, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of … God has not left us alone in our suffering. But this day hasn’t yet arrived to give us all time to get our choices right before God. If we want to know him and the power of his resurrection, then we will need to share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death (Phil. What will you choose? First, there is no one who is truly innocent in that there is no one without sin. For some, this conclusion comes as a relief, a letting go of the need to understand. Usually we say evil means all the possible bad things that can happen to human beings. How are we to understand God or the cosmos given such egregious evil? We have a choice to acknowledge God exists and to admit our shortcomings. In Islam, the idea of God suffering is nonsense—it is thought to make God weak. God cannot stop evil and suffering because He is powerless Of course, this does not stand up to biblical truth. But this falls short, and even seems downright outrageous, when applied to certain kinds of suffering, such as the pain of a seriously ill infant. What is his response to my suffering? For many, the experience of Jews and others in the Holocaust illustrates most clearly the problems inherent in accepting either desert or growth as the solution to the theodicy dilemma. Would a truly good God allow one human to be tortured so that another might be improved? The Bible tells us that God created a "very good" world (Genesis 1:31). After all, sometimes we experience devastating suffering. What of the person who dies after days of agony, with no chance to learn anything? What does the Bible teach? We live in a world in which good and evil are at play on the world stage and in every human being. But some people ask, why doesn’t God just get rid of evil once and for all? God is just and righteous. But the Bible reveals that God is good and that He allows suffering. If we ask why God allows this suffering, the Bible tells us that God doesn’t only permit it: He actively commands it (Matthew 25:41), for God is holy and righteous (1 John 1:5), and it would be unjust for God to leave sin unpunished forever (Romans 3:25-26). Yet as we look around our world, we see so much suffering, pain, and evil. Therefore, those who attend to others in pain—whether health care or religious professionals, family members, or friends—are called on not to offer logical solutions, which are always inadequate, but instead to acknowledge the pain of the questions, hold them with the sufferer, and by presence, attention and care, be the response. One common answer is to look for how we may have deserved this “punishment,” that we somehow have fallen out of God’s favor. However, mankind rejected God and His "very good… And there is hope for today and tomorrow. One day all suffering will end. God is good but evil is also real and has influence in the world for now. The human spirit is always looking for an excuse. If we bring our suffering to Him today – we don’t come to a God who is aloof or indifferent or distant. We know that God uses evil to discipline people (Prov. Pressing their luck and testing their knowledge, clever Cavs take a spin on Wheel, Jeopardy! 3:11) and to teach them (Prov. How could a loving God send anyone to hell. Well, one day he will. He GETS IT because He has been there. Yes, the innocent suffer (see Job 1–2), but God can redeem that suffering. Then some may ask Why then does a good God choose to punish people? Why Would God Let Me Suffer? So,when we consider the question, “If God is good, why do people suffer,” it is quite easy to see what the truth of the matter is. 5 Pastors, priests, and religious teachers often say that it is God’s will that people suffer. The reasons that people suffer in this world is because they reject God and so remain under the power of the ruler of this world who is Satan and who embodies all that is evil. Why does God allow humans to suffer? God allows evil to occur partly for reasons we do know and partly for those we do not. Christianity Explored is registered in England. If we are asking why “good” people suffer, the implication, really, is that suffering should be reserved for the “bad”. Genesis records that God created everything within six literal, 24-hour days and that He called His whole creation “very good” (Genesis 1:31). At the Cross, we see the absolute uniqueness of the Christian response to suffering. Why Do God’s Children Suffer? The question usually comes in theological terms, and really boils down to, “How are we to understand God?” But for most people suffering the effects of evil—including those suffering from diseases and injuries in themselves or in those they love—the question is more likely to be existential: “Given what I’ve always believed to be true about God, how am I to understand this evil that has befallen me?”. When we do good to others and they respond by rejecting us or hurting us, we think that it's because they are bad or that maybe it wasn't a good thing to be "good." Whatever you face, you can choose to go through it without God or with him. Our loving and merciful God has a perfect plan to use that suffering to accomplish His threefold purpose. God allowed Satan to do everything he wanted to Job except kill him, and Satan did his worst. Things are not as they should be. Suffering does not have to have the last word in our lives. If God Loves us so Much, Why do we Suffer? When we do nothing wrong but suffer injustice and unfair treatment from people, we begin to think that God is … A second way we try to answer the question is by saying that the suffering is meant to teach us something. Why are there diseases, abuse, and torture. This does not mean that we will no longer suffer in this world, but it does mean that we will spend eternity with God. We who have been called to this great purpose of conformity to the image of Christ will for that reason also be called to suffer with Christ. We decide. Theist or not, most of us fall back on explanations similar to those put forward by theologians long ago—and all of them have significant holes in them. I’d like to answer the question partly from a scientific point of view but the rest will have a philosophical or religious underpinnings. Somehow, on the cross, all the world’s evil was being directed at one pure, clean target in order to defeat it once and for all. (4 Reasons from 1 Peter),C. Adam Clagg - Read more about spiritual life growth, Christian living, and faith. One day there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. My background is Catholic, Agnostic then Catholic again. They just GET IT – especially when words are not enough. But my resolution may not be yours, and no “answer” really solves the problem. If God is so good, why do we suffer? Because His love usually manifests itself in good things that happen to us, we sometimes fall back in shock and consternation when we see a child struck by disease or some other trauma. A resilient new class of Wahoos, by the numbers. If God Is Good, Why Do We Suffer? But that implies that God would countenance such a thing, and isn’t God supposed to be all good, in ways that we can understand as “good”? What do many religious teachers say about suffering? Very simple: He's trying to tell us something. Thinking about the Bible, I realize the Bible is not the answer people necessarily search for or long for. Job was a righteous man (Job 1:1), yet he suffered in ways that are almost beyond belief. He longs for us to come to him, talk to him, bring our suffering to him. Read reviews from world’s largest community for readers. However, the first human couple rebelled against God’s rulership, choosing to set their own standards of good and bad. They turned away from God and suffered the consequences. 15:32). How can this be? I don’t know about you but when I’m going through a difficult time, I am most at home around people who have been through something similar. How can this be? Jesus has suffered in ways that go beyond anything we can imagine. Some people on the other side of the coin may insist that it is never God’s will for us to suffer. We come to someone who really KNOWS and CARES. It allows them to rely on the support of others and perhaps too of God, believing that, from the perspective of eternity, all will be well. The Christian faith says you fix a broken story by embedding it in a much bigger story in which good wins, and evil loses. The only way to even begin to understand God's perspective is to read His Word, the Bible. And many patients speak of what their illness has taught them—to change their ways, for example. He did this to give us life, so that the evils we face need not absorb and overwhelm us. The Bible tells us that God is all powerful and altogether good. Ultimately, God ordains and brings affliction into a believer’s life (Ruth 1:20–21). If God is as great as everyone says like how He created the world with one sentence or how his son made miracles, why do people suffer everyday. SO WHAT. The risk in that relief, however, is that it may bring with it a tendency to downplay—and therefore fail to deal constructively with—the reality of the present suffering. But God is good because in spite of man’s choice, God provided a way of escape for those who choose to follow him and choose to do what is right. If you believe (I don’t) that God knows about and causes everything that happens in the universe, then you have several options when confronted with apparently senseless suffering. The answer to these questions is this: God loves us that much to put us through tough times. Those things can typically be broken down into three parts: moral evil, like murder or social injustice; natural evil, like tornadoes or cancer; or some combination of the two, such as the societal issues shown in the aftermath of Katrina or cancer linked to smoking. Hear how others have explored Christianity. The University’s ranking in U.S. News improved after falling out of the publication’s list of top 25 national universities last year. He offers us friendship. He is sovereign over all our suffering, though he uses means to accomplish his purposes (Luke 23:25; Galatians 1:4). A similar question may arise for someone who does not believe in a deity but for whom the world appears to operate within generally coherent and reliable patterns, such as cause and effect and the predictable cycles of tides, seasons, birth and death. 3:10). Evil was defeated on that first Easter, and one day it will be removed altogether. But if we start with God’s Word, we don’t have the problem of the punishment before the crime because God’s Word provides the answer to the problem of pain. If everything were alright between man and God, then there would be no sorrow and death, because in the beginning there was none. Why does God permit suffering? Well the fact is, God doesn’t make us suffer, he allows it. 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