This is Part 2 in the article, “Are There Some who Deserve to Suffer?” of the larger question, “How can a loving God allow suffering?” Part 1 was posted yesterday.
Should People be Saved from Themselves?
Then there is the question, “How do we protect people from themselves?” Do they deserve to suffer because of foolish decisions made either purposely or naively? Do we ask God to suspend natural laws like gravity? Or the second law of thermodynamics (the premise that conditions naturally get worse instead of better)? Is God obligated to prevent the naturally occurring results of heredity because children are innocent? Then do we expect Him to save man from the indignities of others? Should God allow free will, but not the effects and consequences of that free will on others? Who is the judge?
How do we address the incalculable suffering of the millions in history who have taken their own lives? What about the suffering they caused their families, friends and acquaintances? Are we somehow responsible, and therefore accountable for their decisions?
There is a Biblical Basis for Those Who Deserve to Suffer
There is a Biblical basis for suffering. However, the question is, “Do we really understand it?” We’ll examine this much more closely in Part 3.
The Bible teaches that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23 NKJ), and, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10 NKJ). Because all of us fall short of the sovereign righteousness of God, He judges and punishes those who reject Him. He destroyed the world in Noah’s day, except for the eight souls in the flood. He caused the Egyptian army to drown in the Red Sea. He destroyed the Canaanites through the hand of Joshua. He revealed Himself as powerful and no one could stand up to His will and work! His actions revealed His indescribable holiness and resultant judgment on sin. His deeds demonstrated the urgent need for repentance before Him, a holy God. He alone is just. He alone is God, and will not be mocked in rejection.
God also declared that those who bless Abraham would be blessed and those who cursed him would be cursed (Gen. 12:3). Obadiah made it clear, “”For the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; Your reprisal shall return upon your own head” (Ob. 1:15 NKJ). It seems clear that there is such a thing as a just warning and deserved punishment.
Fortunately, God does not punish everyone in the same way. For example, God’s discipline towards Christians is always motivated by love in order to draw them closer to Him. Christian suffering is not the same as that of non-Christians. Jesus removed the penalty for all sins, so any suffering the believer has will happen on his days on earth, not in eternity. Sometimes the suffering may look the same as an unbeliever, but it is far different in scope and intent. Are there some who deserve to suffer?
1) What groups of people, in category or location, do you think deserve to suffer? Or what groups do you believe should not suffer?
2) When someone causes another person to suffer, do you think that it should be reciprocal? In what circumstances should a person suffer, and does he do so by chance?
3) Is there another way to look at the suffering that evolution says is bound to happen? If there is no morality (as in evolution), or only relative morality, that is, “I decide what is right,” then who deserves to suffer or decides who should suffer?
4) What are some examples in which you believe God would say a person or people deserve to suffer?
5) Do people suffer as much as they should in time? How or how not?
This concludes this article.
1Desmond, A. and Moore, J., Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist, (New York: W.W. Norton and Company,1991), 387 quoted in Mitchell, Tommy, “Why Does God’s Creation Include Death & Suffering?” in The New Answers Book 1, (Green Forest: Master Books, 2006), p. 326
2Mitchell, Tommy, “Why Does God’s Creation Include Death & suffering?” in The New Answers Book 1, (Green Forest: Master Books, 2006), p. 336.