Suffering: Is God indifferent to the suffering that He allows? Part 1

This is Part 1 of 5 parts answering the question, “Is God indifferent to the suffering that He allows?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 2-5 will be posted on succeeding days.

In the midst of suffering, a person might think that God is indifferent to his plight. Some suffer for “only” months or even years, but there are others who feel like they have had a lifetime’s worth of anguish. Whether caused by genetics or trials in life, enduring this misery can be a deep, dark valley of depression. In the agony, silence is an enemy when words of encouragement to hold on or keep going are needed.

Being in this situation, one may feel like a lack of Divine concern. Many people may have said, “My problems are big to me, but how can God be just as concerned about the other seven billion people? Surely God can’t be attentive to everyone! Maybe things are just out of God’s control!” Does God care for the suffering of each person? Or maybe He has become indifferent, or numb to it?

Does God Care About Each Situation?

Humanly speaking, it makes no logical sense that God could keep track of seven billion people, who all might be suffering at the same time. What kind of system could God have to ensure that He would know what was going on with every person, hear cries for help and have a solution that addressed each individual situation? It seems impossible for us to imagine this. Does God care?

David cried out regarding what seemed like silence, “O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent.” (Ps. 22:2 NKJ) He cried out to God, when the wicked surrounded him, “To You I will cry, O LORD my Rock: Do not be silent to me, Lest, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.” (Ps. 28:1 NKJ) Yes, David shed many tears over the silence he seemed to experience, “Hear my prayer, O LORD, And give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears; For I am a stranger with You.” (Ps. 39:12 NKJ)

Asaph cried out to God in the Psalms, “Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God!” (Ps. 83:1 NKJ)  Isaiah wrote that when God wanted to communicate, He would, “I will not keep silence.” (Is. 65:6 NKJ)

Now, Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal who were trying to get Baal’s attention. Elijah set a contest with those prophets to determine who the real God was. The contest involved setting up a sacrifice and the real God would consume the sacrifice without human intervention or lighting of the fire. Elijah mocked,

26 So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made. 27 And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. 29 And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention. (1 Kings 18:26-29 NKJ)

There is no god called Baal, except maybe a demon who might respond to that name. But God is real! He revealed Himself to Elijah and will continue to do so for those who keep trusting Him.

Yes, God cares deeply about every person ever born. Jesus compared our lives to the value of a bird, “”Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt. 6:26 NKJ) If He cares for simple sparrows, then He will care much more about you.

Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.

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