This if the fourth and final part in answering the question, “Are there innocent people that God allows to suffer?” in the larger series answering the question, “How can a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 1,2 and 3 were posted over the previous three days.
Did God see the suffering to come?
If God is all-knowing, did He know the suffering that would come to mankind? Yes, He knew it would come. Did God know about the evil that would be perpetrated against the people He had created? Yes, He did. Does that make God some form of deity that is less than loving?
How many parents make a decision of whether to have children or not based on whether he will suffer or not? There may be a few, but the joy of bringing new life into the world and growing in a relationship with the child usually overwhelms the awareness of potential trials. Most parents seek to have children, regardless of whether the child will be born whole or with physical or mental struggles.
God knew suffering would come. We’ll see in Part 3 that God had planned for the entrance of sin into the world by providing the Lamb of God, “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8 NKJ)
People may be innocent of specific suffering in the Angelic Conflict
We have mentioned Job before and the horrible suffering he endured. God called Job an innocent, blameless man before Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (Job 1:8 NKJ) When he suffered, he responded with humility and trust in the Lord,
20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” 22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. (Job 1:20-22 NKJ)
Larry Waters aptly stated, “God uses the believer’s suffering to communicate His purpose and person to others through conversation, pain management, and attitude.”3 The conversation is with Job’s wife and the pain management and attitude are seen in Job’s acceptance of God’s sovereignty and grace in the beginning of his suffering. Job’s suffering did not end with all of His losses, but continued from those who were closest to him! In fact, they used some of the same theology that Satan fomented. Again Waters wrote, “Since Job was suffering undeservedly, and since the false premise of Satan was the major impetus of his attack against Job and ultimately against God, it would seem logical to assume that Satan’s theology would influence the counselors to perpetuate the same false doctrine, namely, that the righteous never suffer and the unrighteous always do.”4 That was exactly what happened!
1) What are several examples of people that were innocent and suffered?
2) Did you have a chance to come alongside of them to comfort them in their suffering? What did or would you say?
3) Is it “fair” that the human race inherits the sin nature at birth (Rom. 5:12)?
4) If God saw that suffering would happen, what do you suppose are reasons that He allowed it to continue? If we don’t know, does God know?
5) If people are innocent of specific suffering, like Job, what do you suppose might be reasons that people still go through suffering?
This concludes the articles for this question.
2Robert M. Hodapp and Diane V. Krasner, “Families of Children with Disabilities: findings from a National Sample of Eighth Grade Students, “ Exceptionality 6, no. 2 (1994-1995):71-81 documented in Thomson, Daniel, Why, O God, p. 29.
3Waters, Larry, Why, O God? p. 115.