Suffering: Is it Unjust That God Allows Some People to Suffer More than Others? Part 1

This begins a two part posting to answer the question, “Is it Unjust That God Allows Some People to Suffer more than others?” in the larger series of asking the question, “How can a loving God allow suffering?” The second part will be posted tomorrow.

Is There Injustice?

So far, we have had an honest discussion of a multitude of ways people suffer. We’ve looked at it from both a horizontal perspective (man’s view) and also a vertical perspective (God’s view). We may not have identified every conceivable way that people suffer, but we have looked at different categories. There certainly seems to be a vicious nature of it, which has been described.

At this point, we need to shift our attention to Creator God. We’ll take more time in Part Two to look at “Who is this God who allows suffering?”  In this entry, however, we are still looking at how we live in a world where it seems to be rampant.  From the human perspective, the common question related to “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” is asking, “Is it unjust that God allows some people to suffer more than others?”1

Is it fair that six million Jews were shipped off to concentration camps and exterminated in Nazi death camps? Is there injustice with God? They had no choice in their birth as a Jew. That was their reality. Why should they suffer because of their lineage or heritage?

Is it fair that millions died at the simple plan and choice of brutal, vicious dictators? Is there injustice with God? It is likely most of those people had no choice that they just happened to be born in those countries. Do they not count in life? They were just trying to raise a family and eke out a living and yet they were snuffed out like a bug under a boot.

Is it fair that millions died during World War Two (let alone all the other wars!)? Germany lost 7.4 million people, of which 5.3 million were military deaths. How many of them had a choice in where they lived? There were roughly 20 million civilian and another 8.7 million military Soviet deaths. Did they know Germany would invade their country? There were around 5.8 million Polish civilians dead at the hands of the Fuhrer Hitler. Did they have a choice to be born next to the country which would invade them? There are estimates of between 50 and 72 million that died during this one war alone! Is there some injustice of God in these circumstances?

Does Life Just Go and Come Around?

Should we, therefore, look at life as if it happens with no real purpose? Ronald Allen wrote, “For those whose outlook is a view of randomness, bad things are as likely to show up in one’s life as good things. ‘After all,’ they surmise, ‘is not life just a gamble?’”2  He also wrote regarding Buddhist logic, “This is sometimes simplified in the maxim, ‘what goes around, comes around.’ One friend expressed things this way: ‘the universe just wants to even things out, so don’t take good or bad things too personally – these things are really not about you.’”3 There certainly is some truth in those comments from the human perspective, but what is God’s perspective? Has God lost control of the world, so that He is not able to stop suffering? Some people have made that claim.

One could even look at Solomon’s words and claim similar things! He wrote,

  • To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
  •  2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;
  •  3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up;
  •  4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
  •  5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
  •  6 A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
  •  7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
  •  8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace. (Ecc. 3:1-8 NKJ)

But the wise king Solomon did not pen these well-known words to make life sound like there was no purpose. He was simply explaining that in God’s perfect plan, life happens – good and bad!

God can handle all of our questions! He was certainly able to handle the assaults on His character from His own people in the Psalms, and those who rebelled against Him. So let’s ask again, “Is it unjust that God allows some to suffer more than others?”

Part 2 will be posted tomorrow to conclude the question, “Is it unjust that God allow some to suffer more than others?”

1This is related to Lee Strobel’s national survey when he prepared to write his book, The Case for Faith. The survey asked, “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?” accessed from on December 28, 2013.

2Allen, Ronald (“Suffering in the Psalms and Wisdom Books,” in Why, O God? p. 129.



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