Suffering: Is it fair that a loving God allows people to suffer at all? Part 1

This is the first part answering the question, “Is it fair that a loving God allows people to suffer at all?” in the larger series dealing with the question, “How can a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 2 and 3 will be posted over the next two days.

Is it Fair?

Is it fair “at all” that creatures have to suffer? I remember as a child talking to my mother and she was having a particularly difficult time with her number two son (me!). I remember saying, “But mom, I didn’t ask to be born! How come I have to do all these chores? Other boys don’t have to do all I have to do!  It’s not fair!” Do you remember saying (or thinking) something like that? Wow! Rather than asking my mother, “Mom, I know I’m here on earth and there must be a purpose. How can I better understand the reason for doing chores and the pain of doing stuff I don’t want to do?” But, like most people, I was just a kid and was learning to grow up!

My mother stood her ground and gave me a few reasons why I needed to obey her (fortunately, her grace did not include any paddling that day!) She always thought of the big picture and while I don’t remember a deep theological answer, I do remember she wanted me to keep growing and living. But what about God? Is it the same way with Him? Is it fair that we have to suffer so? How many of us asked God to create us? Couldn’t God create a life of ease and pleasure, like living on a cruise ship? And couldn’t God ensure that people didn’t fight against each other so much?

What about the “Health and Wealth” Gospel?

Speaking of cruise lines, why can’t those in God’s family live on the “Good Ship Lollipop”? One might think that once someone was transferred out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light that life would be much better! Maybe even a life of health and wealth! Daniel Thomson wrote about how those who suffer from disability do not fit into this mentality,

If one holds a prosperity-gospel perspective toward life, suffering and disability in a sense have become an abnormality in this abnormal world until the eternal kingdom begins. After all, if a believer is not supposed to suffer (“God wants you to have health and wealth in this life”), then suffering and disability do not fit the paradigm.1

In fact, living with disabilities does not get any easier in life. Jessica Baldridge expressed that the pressure in life continues to mount, because there is no reprieve from the nurture, care, and financial strain on families with disabled family members,

Stress exponentially multiplies when a lifelong disability involves one’s child. Developmental milestones are missed and mourned, repeatedly. Financial strain is present. Emotional depletion results from long-term stress. The divorce rate is between 85-90 percent and the unchurched rate between 90-95 percent among these families. They face something bigger than they are. Yet churches have been reluctant to reach out to the disabled in desperate need of Good news!2

Parts two and three will be posted on the next two days.

1Thomson, Daniel, “A Biblical Disability-Ministry Perspective” in Why, O God? p. 28.

2Baldrige, Jessica, “Church-based Disability Ministries” in Why, O God? p. 40.

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