Following the Disciple's Trail

Following the Disciple's Trail

Saturday, February 25, 2012

If God Is A God Of Love, Why Does He Allow Suffering In The World?

This is a question that is probably as old as religion itself. I have heard it many times from people who are Agnostic, Atheist and even some Christians struggling with that part of their faith. If God is a God of love, who in His own Word proclaims His love for us, how can He allow evil to exist and allow suffering of innocent people?

CS Lewis, the great Christian writer once stated "The problem of pain" was atheism’s most potent weapon against the Christian faith (Paraphrased). So why does it happen? Why does a loving God allow these things to be in the world? Babies dying of starvation, good people having everything destroyed by catastrophe, millions of people suffering from incurable diseases, broken homes, murder, corruption...

To fully be able to answer that question, one would have to fully have the mind of God. While that is impossible for us in our finite minds, we can look at His word, the Bible, and understand completely why these things take place. The first thing that must be understood is that God did not bring these things upon us, we brought them upon ourselves.

God created man to have feeling, emotion, desire and a mind to think independently for themselves. When God created man, He gave us dominion over all the creation.

"Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)

It was God's desire to see us be the rulers of the creation He had made for us. God's purpose for our creation was not to make us robots that served without question, but He created man to be a friend to Him, to walk with Him and enjoy the gifts that had been given. (Genesis 3:8) Because we had the option of freewill, of free thought, God had allowed us the ability to make choices, for good or for bad. Sadly, we made a choice that brought corruption not only upon ourselves, but upon all creation that we were given dominion over.

Through our choice to not heed the word of God, through partaking of the fruit of the tree God commanded us not to partake of, we allowed sin to enter into the creation. Because we were placed in the position of being over what God had created, when we brought sin into us, as the head of creation, we brought it into creation itself.

The Apostle Paul spoke of the fall of man and how it has effected the creation as we know it. the Creation "groans and labors" because of the corruption we brought forth into it. (Romans 3:18-24) Some would say, "Well, if God knew this would happen, why didn't He stop it". For the same reason He does not stop us from making our own decisions for our own lives and existence. God wants us to CHOOSE HIM, not be subjected to being forced to do it, but to do it because we desire to do it.

To understand this fully is to understand that God is fully a God of love. He loves us enough to allow us to make choices, but just as He allowed Adam and Eve to make their own choice, and that choice allowed sin to enter into the world, He also allows us to deal with the consequences of our choices and actions because of it. If we choose to do wrong, to do evil, God is not required to save us from ourselves from the things we have freely chosen to follow after or perform. Does God intervene into the lives and existence of mankind? Absolutely He does. Then why does He not intervene at all times? Because again, we cannot in our finite minds fully understand the mind of God.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

This may actually be the hardest part to understand in this entire discussion. But I will try to illustrate what this means to us as the creation, not the Creator.

Imagine if you will the work of a tapestry on a loom. The loom runs the thread, each different colors, each moving into the work of the tapestry through the looming process and by the work of the One who is controlling the loom and creating the tapestry. We are each a threat on that loom. Each of us are a color being added into that tapestry. Our colors may be bright, they may be dark, but whatever the color of our lives, the One who is creating the tapestry uses each of us in the work He is doing. We can only see the part of the tapestry where our thread is being used, but the Creator sees the entire tapestry that He is weaving on the loom. Our colors, whatever they may be, fit perfectly into the creation of that eternal tapestry. Not because we chose it to be, but because the Creator chose it to be. What we see only in the small area of our lives, God sees in the completed work.

Should God step into our decisions and change what we do? Then we would not have the freewill he has given us to make those decisions. It is fully because God does love us that we have the ability to have freewill and make our own choices, and yet, because of the evil of our own hearts, we choose to follow those things that bring death and corruption instead of those things that bring life and blessings. This is not speaking of us as individuals, though we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but as mankind as a whole.

There is also the question of Satan being in the world, leading us to temptation, leading us to do those things that are against God. The Bible calls him the Accuser, Deceiver, The Father of Lies, The Lawless One, and many others, but it also calls him an Angel of Light. He can come to us, and entice us, just as he did Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and paint a story and picture that is almost too good to resist. So why does God allow him to exist? This is the same Being the Word of God clearly states was the highest of the Angels that rebelled against God and His authority and caused war in Heaven. The same individual that was cast down with a third of the Heavenly Host who followed after him to war against God. (Revelation 12:7-9) (Ezekiel 28:11-19)

The question of God allowing Satan to exist is really not that hard to answer. Why does God allow us to exist? When He created the Angels of heaven, they were created to be Servants to God, not to be Friends to God or the Children of God. But does that mean that God does not still love them? God loves all of His creation. Satan made a choice, showing that Angels also have the ability of freewill.

Some would say, "Why didn't God give Satan a chance to repent?" How do we know that He has not done so? Perhaps God has given that choice to Satan, not through Christ, for He came for mankind, to deliver us from our bondage under the sins of mankind, but through another means that God had for Him? Perhaps He has, and Satan in his pride and rebellion refused. But we do know that Satan's fate is sealed and that hell was created for him and for the angels that followed him. (Isaiah 14:12-15) We also know that mankind that lives in rebellion towards God shall find his place there as well. But it is not because God has desired for us to have a place of eternal separation from him, we, again, make that choice for ourselves through either our acceptance of him, or our denial of Him. It was never His intention for us to be under his judgement (John 3:16-17) (Revelation 21:7-8)

The honest answer is that we just don't know that God did not give Satan an opportunity to repent. Although the Bible gives us descriptions of certain things, and we have all we need to understand about God and the place He should be in our lives, we are not given a panoramic view of all things from the beginning til the end. Again, I refer you to the tapestry of God in the analogy I have given previously.

But the truth is, God has put forth a way of not only escape for us, but for His creation as well. Through Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made, we will have and end to the sufferings of this world. Christs sacrifice was eternal, as He was and is eternal, it was for the sins of man that caused the fall of creation, and just as Adam fell, Christ has redeemed, and all things will be brought under His rule. (1 Corinthians 15:20-28)

So why do good people suffer? Why does evil exist in the world? Because we allow it to. Our choices, our sin desire, brings these things into being and have brought these things upon us. God has made a way for us to have escape from these things, yet we make the choice not to follow or believe. The corruption of the creation brought death under Adam. Disease, poverty, war...But God, through Jesus Christ, brings life, richness and peace, and in the end, not only will it apply to mankind and the state we have brought upon ourselves, but it will apply to the creation as a whole as God sets those things right that are wrong today.