Major life issues that challenge God’s existence.
Why does God allow human suffering and evil?
What is his role there?

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1.    INTRODUCTION

Indeed, if there is a God who is supposed to be good, why is there so much suffering and evil in the world? Without doubt, it is a DIFFICULT question, this one. Many thoughts arise when trying to come up with an answer. Is there any way God could have designed things differently? Importantly, could the world and we human beings be better designed to reduce or even prevent suffering and evil?

Ultimately, this issue of suffering and evil does lead us to question God’s role in relation to it. And also what should be our response …

2.    MY WISH LIST

A ‘mere mortal’ like me can only guess what I would have done. That is, if I had the responsibility for planning the way the world should be. Like anyone else I have the right to use my imagination, eh?

Could I have left suffering and evil completely out of the specifications? Better still, a world where everybody would live perfectly healthy and happy lives until at least one hundred years of age? The random effects of disease and genetic disorders would be no more.

And could I prevent horrifying accidents from happening? Could an invisible barrier be placed between all people and objects of possible injury or death, no matter what risks they or others took with their bodies?

What about stopping natural disasters from harming humans? Could I leave them – heatwaves, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis – out of the grand design?

Is there any way I could program people so that nobody would be cruel to others?

If everything else failed, and we asked through ‘faith’, then could God unleash miracles on all those who are suffering?

My wish list seems to cover ‘most of the angles’ doesn’t it?

3.    REALITY CHECK

But, you know, when I analyse my specifications above I do find faults with them. I come from an auditing background you see. (To read about the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here.)

3.1    Would the world look fake?

If God did continually muddle around in the space/ time continuum etc. to alter the outcome of all potentially harmful events, then we would have noticeable flow-on effects in our daily lives. Resulting warps in that ‘continuum’ could for example cause: moving objects to stop in their tracks; landscape changes; people to recover overnight from serious illness or disease without any medical help. It would not matter what we ate or drank or inhaled or injected because our bodies would recover from all forms of abuse.

Life would be so visibly different from what we have now. In fact, we would have to acknowledge a considerable ‘force’ existing beneath reality. In fact, God’s existence would become so very obvious to us all.

As explained in the article, “Why is God invisible?” that does not sit well with his actual needs at all.

3.2   Outcome of our free will

From the human perspective too, our ‘free will’ means that people shall more than likely continue to harm themselves and other people, no matter what! Human greed, hatred, selfishness, bad habits, uncontrolled anger and intolerance are major contributors to self harm and evil to others.

In other words, if we are all to have free will, then each of us must suffer the consequences. Otherwise, we would only be programmed robots. Not a good alternative at all!

3.3    Drawbacks of everyday miracles

And what of miracles that might overcome our suffering? They still happen, don’t they? If we have faith, then surely … ? Although, in fact, I DO KNOW that ‘healing miracles‘ still happen – that is the occasional overriding of the laws of cause and effect by God, at our request – they will always be rare in the ‘scheme of things’. And yes, I admit it, they absolutely rocked my socks ‘when I first witnessed them‘ in the Church. 

You see, miracles are usually special ‘one offs’ used by God to build up his Church and individuals within it. Sadly, we must remember that if life was to be a continual ‘bed of roses’ for all of us we would never become the mature spiritual beings intended by God; beings who are to spend eternity with him after leaving our physical existences behind. Please see the verse, Romans 8:18 in the Bible.

(Present day events, empowered by God in the Church, are discussed in the article, “Experiencing the Holy Spirit”.)

4.    GOD’S ROLE IN SUFFERING AND EVIL

So, what of God’s role in human suffering and evil during everyday life? I have experienced enough physical pain (as a cancer survivor and through long term chronic illness) together with emotional pain (loss of a son) in my life to understand the concepts of this article. Through my own experiences I recognise that suffering and life are just ‘intertwined’ with each other. I do not blame God for that pain in my life at all.

4.1    The one true constant in our lives

As I have already implied, it appears that ‘cause and effect’, and chance, are essential in the ‘equation’ of existence – that is to make it all real. Science can often tell us ‘how’ these things happen.

However, the actual “why things happen as they do?” does seem to be beyond the best of us human beings a lot of the time. One book of the Christian Bible, “Ecclesiastes”, points out the irony of life: the misery and obvious injustices that so many people suffer. It also points out the senselessness of us trying to understand why. The first chapter introduces the flavour of ‘futility’ within life.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

God is offered by the Book’s author as the one true ‘constant’ in our lives that we can rely on.

Indeed, one of God’s primary roles is of support and comfort. His love, self sacrifice and guidance are all offered to us IF we choose to engage with him in life. He is also there helping us to ‘grow’ emotionally and spiritually so as to successfully face life’s hardships when they arise. As such we MUST trust him, no matter what difficulties face us.

So yes, we need to strengthen our relationship with him as the “the one true constant” mentioned above.

4.2    He is with us in our suffering

In fact, God is closer to us in our suffering than we might first think. We must not take the Biblical statement [Acts 17:28] lightly – “For in him we live and move and have our being.” How can God not know when we suffer? Additionally, God is absolutely and completely linked to our suffering in an incredible way, i.e. at the very ‘causation’ of our own being’s existence (see the article “So, what is God”). He therefore knows of our pain from whatever source: physical, emotional or spiritual.

Most importantly though God, in the ‘person’ of Jesus, experienced extreme physical and emotional pain as a human being for himself. Of course I am referring to Jesus’ torture and eventual death by crucifixion. Yes, God knows exactly what we are going through during our personal pain and suffering in life.

But, God also knows that pain and suffering really do ‘help us to grow’. We pass through them, as such, and can thereby study ourselves in an emotional and spiritual sense. Then with the Lord’s help make positive changes to ourselves. And that just can’t happen until we are in that ‘place’.  So yes, as a result, we grow spiritually and we also grow ever closer in our relationship to the Lord. From the Bible:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing
of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work
so that you may be mature and
complete, not lacking anything.
[James 1:2-4]

Bold words eh? And James says, “Consider it pure joy”. Wowzers, you may think! But I say from my own experiences in those kinds of places, it absolutely does change us positively if we follow that advice. The greatest potential outcome for us Christians is an ironclad relationship with God. So I say, trust him! 

AND of course, God is literally there to enfold us with his loving support/ comforting, if we deliberately open ourselves, and engage with him. He is always ready and waiting! Please also read the article, “God during hard times” for an explanation of how he is actually ready to assist us when we are in that position.

4.3    God is not responsible for evil

In relation to evil, in my view at least, it is wrong to blame God for its creation.

Rather, evil is born in the minds of humankind. It is encouraged/ fanned by the ‘dark power’, known as Satan, that opposes God’s goodness. (A subject that has great authenticity in my mind, but is outside the scope of this website.)

Even God, in the person of Jesus, suffered from evil during his life on Earth.

It is very, very complex, that one!

5.    CONCLUSION

As I have already indicated, I do know that God’s presence can become both more needed, and obvious, during times of suffering than when ‘the good times roll’. From my own experience, these hard times will draw us believers closer to the Lord and encourage us to mature spiritually. So, something positive can definitely occur out of suffering. Again, please read that article, “God during hard times“.

Despite all the facts though, I must be honest here and say that I do still find the question “why?”, in regard to human suffering, hard to answer sometimes. I also admit that the suffering of others can also strain my relationship with God a bit at times … and I do complain to him! But it never throws my faith into doubt. I have experienced too much of his presence in my life, and witnessed it in the lives of others, for that to happen. (Even then, I know that ‘doubt is not always a bad thing‘ anyway.)

I know too that I will never come close to having God’s level of wisdom, when it comes to human suffering. Yes, he completely understands both the negatives and positives of suffering for us human beings. That is in a way that we cannot as human beings.

Importantly, we must remember that ‘hope’ sits at the core of our ability to handle the suffering that comes our way in life. Hope transforms! It can even be applied through prayer and human involvement to combat evil in this world.

If you wish to know more about ‘what’ God actually is, then access the article, “So, what is God?”. The final section of the website ‘explains Christianity‘ and offers an understanding of ‘who’ God is. Christianity offers a whole-of-life philosophy that certainly deals effectively with suffering and evil. Finally, if you would like guidance on how to know whether God actually exists, then please access the article, “Can I believe in God?”.


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