Why Does God Allow Pain, Suffering and Death?
So why does God permit suffering? It is probably one of the most difficult questions to answer, especially for Christians. When we see the terrible devastation that war brings, the suffering caused by sickness and disease, or the injustice wrought on innocent people by violent or powerful men, it is easy to question the omnipotence of our creator. But he wants us to ask these questions!
To question such matters indicates to God that we genuinely hate these things and we long to seek the truth about them. It shows him that in our hearts we are pained by evil and unfairness, and that they have no place in the world in which we long to live, the world he created. In the book of Habakkuk, one of god's own prophets, Habakkuk, asks in Chapter 1, verses 3,4; “Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” NIV (New International Version)
Do We Have the Right to Question God?
If God had not wanted us to have the freedom to question him, he would not have included such accounts in his Holy Word. He could have easily hidden them from us by not inspiring them to be written. He didn't become defensive or angry with Habakkuk, he took the time to explain things to him so as to strengthen his faith. God knows that all humans have these same questions, and he has provided the answers in his Holy Word, the Bible. We just need to seek them, and if we truly want to know the answers, they will be revealed to us as he has guaranteed in Mathew 7:7; “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” KJV (King James Version)
Many people blame God for not caring, others including some religious leaders, say that God has predetermined everything, and that such things must pass because they are his will. The Bible however seems to contradict such sentiments, especially in verses such as Job 34:10 which states; “Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding: far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong.” EST (English Standard Version), or Deuteronomy 32:4; “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” NIV
So why do so many people hold God accountable for the pain and suffering that we see and are susceptible to on a daily basis? Why, if he want us to be happy, if he placed the original humans in a beautiful paradise, and told us to go forth and multiply as he did in the first two chapters of Genesis, would he go back on his word? The truth is, he did not, we did, or at least our ancestor Adam and his wife Eve did. They broke the one rule that God had set in place for them, and by doing so they encountered the fate that God had warned them about; they would work hard, suffer, and die.
The Real Ruler of the World
To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat from it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:17-19 NIV
By electing to disobey that one law that God had set in place for them, Adam and Eve chose the word of Satan over that of God. By doing so, they removed themselves from under God's protective sovereignty and placed themselves and their ancestors (us) at the mercy of the Devil. There are several scriptures that enlighten us as to who rules the world, one important one being Mathew 4:8,9, which states; “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
So how does this scripture show that Satan is in charge of things here on earth? The answer is best revealed by asking another question; How could Satan offer Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth and their riches if he didn't own them? Jesus didn't dispute the fact that he did! Another scripture backs this sentiment up. 1 John 5:19 states: “We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.” NLV (new Living Version) Revelation 12:9 tells us that; “The great dragon was hurled down, that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” NIV
Satan and his angels have been cast down to the earth, and they are the ones responsible for the majority of the pain and suffering we experience. Their influence is the cause of the world's mayhem according to the Bible, and Adam and Eve made the decision to subject themselves and us to it. That same sin has caused us to become imperfect and susceptible to death and disease, while also causing some to dominate, oppress, and to hurt others. Those who do are reflecting the qualities of Satan, not God.
Exercise Faith in God's Promise to Endure
We must always remember the words of Zephaniah; “The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Zephaniah 3:17 NASB (New American Standard Bible)
Though we may have to endue the pain, suffering and death of ourselves and our loved ones, we can rest assured in God's promise to all who adhere to and follow his word; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” KJV That is the essence of our Christian faith.
The Strengthening of Faith - Octavius Winslow
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