This is part one answering the question, “Who is the God who allows Suffering?” This is part of a project to answer the question, “Why does a loving God allow Suffering?”
One of the most prominent questions throughout history is “How can a loving God allow suffering?” You will hear it today in the media when there is a disaster. You will hear it on secular college campuses that question “religion.” You will hear it from those who question the existence of God. You will hear it from both religious and atheistic people. “If God is loving and good, how can He allow so much suffering?” is the basic question. Some allow the reality that evil and suffering exist to give a reason why they want to reject the Lord.
Well, who is this God who allows suffering? Let’s take a look at His character (his attributes) in order to better understand the dilemma of the whole subject. God is infinite, so He cannot be fully understood by our finite minds. However Scripture reveals sufficient truth about His character so that we might at least begin to understand. Let’s specifically look at a dozen or so of His attributes. We need to at least scratch the surface of God’s greatness. to understand who He is.
God is Sovereign
God is sovereign over the whole universe, let alone the earth! There is nothing that escapes God’s notice or was not in God’s eternal decree (His plan of history). Paul wrote to Ephesus, “In Him [Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him [Father] who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” (Eph. 1:11 NKJ) In Jesus Christ, we obtain an inheritance according to the purpose of the Father who works all things according to His will. He is in control and He works through Jesus Christ. For, even Jesus Christ in His humanity came to do the Father’s will, “Then I said, `Behold, I [Jesus] have come– In the volume of the book it is written of Me– To do Your will, O God.’” (Heb. 10:7 NKJ) So if God is Sovereign, there must be a reason why suffering exists, IF God is sovereign (and He is).
God is Righteous
God is righteous in His character and in His works. Jesus said, “O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.” (John 17:25 NKJ) Moses made it clear that the Lord is righteous, “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.” (Deut. 32:4 NKJ) God is righteous, His works are righteous and He can never do anything against His righteous character. That means God is always right in what He does and even what He allows. He is sovereign over all circumstances and all that happens is within His righteous plan. So if God is righteous, there must be some way of understanding why suffering exists, which often seems so unrighteous, especially when seemingly innocent people suffer; IF God is righteous.
God is Just
God is perfect Jjustice. He can never do anything that is not just or unfair. He is the righteous standard of justice and His sovereignty will ensure that justice will be maintained. Elihu said to Job regarding God, “As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him; He is excellent in power, In judgment and abundant justice; He does not oppress.” (Job 37:23 NKJ) Moses said above, “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice.” (Deut. 32:4 NKJ) The psalmist wrote, “He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.” (Ps. 33:5 NKJ) God can never do anything less than what is just. The Justice of God guards the righteousness of God to ensure the holiness of God. The Justice of God also ensures that the will of God is accomplished and the integrity of God is maintained intact. Because God is infinite, there can never be a circumstance that is beyond the Justice of God. If God is just, then there must be a reason why God would allow suffering, even when it appears innocent, IF God is just.
God is Holy
God is holy in all His character and His ways. He is “totally other” from all creatures or creation. Nothing and no one is like God. He is holy, that is, He is separate from all others. When Moses spoke to Pharaoh, he said, “Let it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God.” (Ex. 8:10 NKJ) Moses also exhorted Israel before going into the Promised Land, “Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” (Deut. 4:39 NKJ) Hannah sang, “No one is holy like the LORD, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.” (1 Sam. 2:2 NKJ) The Seraphim cried out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Is. 6:3 NKJ) God cannot be compared to man or any other creation. He is holy. We cannot impose our thinking upon Him. He is holy. The Lord Jesus intended that His sheep be kept secure to be one with the holiness of God. Jesus said, “Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.” (John 17:11b NKJ) If God is holy, there must be a reason why God allows suffering that maintains His holiness, IF He is holy.
Check back tomorrow for part 2.