This is the second part of the article posted yesterday.
The Question People Ask
When Lee Strobel was preparing to write his best-selling book “The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity,” he completed a nationwide survey asking, “If you could ask God anything what would you ask?” You can imagine the number of questions people thought to ask. However, the top response was, “Why is there suffering and evil in the world?”2
That seems like a reasonable question. If God is a loving and merciful God, then how can He allow such suffering? If God is declared as being very powerful, why does He not stop the suffering? If God is good, then how can He let such suffering go on and on? How can a loving God allow suffering? C.S. Lewis described the dilemma this way,
If God were good, He would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty, He would be able to do what He wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both. This is the problem of pain, in its simplest form.3
David Blount addressed the critic in this way, “Some critics of the biblical conception of God claimed that the existence of evil is logically inconsistent with God’s existence.”4 In short they claim that the following two propositions cannot both be true:
G – God, who is all good, all-knowing, and all-powerful, exists.
E – Evil exists.
Blount states the critic’s argument this way, “The critic correctly maintains that the rationality of believing two propositions both to be true depends on the probability that they are both true but in that case, what is relevant is not the probability of G given E but rather the probability of G given all the available evidence, given all that one believes to be true.5
This was one of Charles Darwin’s confusions. He questioned all the death and suffering in the world and “the idea of a benevolent designer did not square with the world he observed.”6 Darwin thought a creation full of pain and death seemed to deny a good and loving Creator God.
The largest private landowner in America, Ted Turner, became extremely distraught at the death of his sister, Mary Jane, from lupus when she was 17.7 When Turner was younger, he went to church. However, he rejected religion and became suicidal when Mary Jane died, because he had no answers about why her life was ended short.8 He claimed, “I was taught that God was love and God was powerful, and I couldn’t understand how someone so innocent should be made or allowed to suffer so.”9
Why does God allow such suffering? The question seems very reasonable from our human perspective and comprehension. Most people view life as inconsistent with the power or with the love of God. Either God has the power, or God has the love. If He has the power, then maybe He is not a God of love as many declare, especially when suffering strikes the seemingly innocent. Many people expect that a God of love who is powerful would ensure innocent people would not suffer. “Why does God not intervene?” many scream!
An Explanation for Suffering
The “problem of pain,” as the well-known Christian scholar, C.S. Lewis, once called it, is atheism’s most potent weapon against the Christian faith.10 So, how do we deal with it?
The purpose for these writings is to examine that question: How can a loving God allow suffering? There have been many books, articles and blogs written to explain this. The fact is, there is more than just one question related to the suffering that God allows and they do not have easy answers. The purpose of this project is to ask those questions and then ask God the questions. In other words, “What does God say in His Word regarding the reason for suffering? My prayer is to examine the questions under four parts. First, we live in a world of suffering. Secondly, how do you deal with suffering? Thirdly, there must be a reason for suffering. And fourthly, how can you have victory in and through suffering?
Jesus made an astounding statement to the disciples before He was crucified and sent them out to declare God’s love. He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you willhave tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJ) If He has overcome the world, then how come there is still suffering and how can you become an overcomer in the world also?
May the peace of God that surpasses all comprehension settle in and dwell you as you live in the world and often suffer. May the following pages bring you understanding, hope and confidence in the God who allows suffering!
Here are the four categories of questions we need to answer:
- What kind of world do we live in?
- In what ways does man deal with suffering?
- Is there a reason for suffering?
- Is there victory through suffering?
Why? Why does God allow suffering, pain and death, even among His own children? Even God called Job a blameless man, yet He allowed Job to suffer dreadful losses of his business, his ten children and his health (Job 1-2). Douglas Blount wrote, “And this leaves Job with a legitimate question, namely, Why? Why does God allow one whom he loves-one who has done nothing to deserve misery—to suffer.”11
[This completes this article. Other articles will be posted next week on Feb. 6, 2014]
3Lewis, C.S., The Problem of Pain, p. 26.
4Blount, Douglas, “Receiving Evil from God” in Why, O God, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011) p. 218.
5Ibid, p. 220.
6McIntosh, Andy and Hodge, Bodie, “How Did Defense/Attack Structures Come About?” in “The New Answers Book 1.” (n.p.; Masters Books, 2006), p. 260.
9documented in http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/why-does-creation-include-suffering as reported from: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/arts/AP-People-Turner.html, April 16, 2001
11Blount, Douglas. “Receiving Evil from God” in Why, O God, p. 220.