I wrote this last year. I hope it helps some…
I wrote this last year. I hope it helps some people on the question of suffering…
The question of suffering is one of the most profound when dealing with the nature of God and of God’s love. How can a God of infinite love allow for all of the suffering in the world? If God does exist, and allows for such evil, certainly he must be an unpleasant being not worthy of our worship?
For most of us who have endured suffering, especially that of a loved one, no answer will be sufficient. No answer will take away the immense feeling of pain and loss. It’s very difficult for us to make sense of it all. During these times of suffering, it is important for us to understand that God does love us. He understands what we are going through and it pains him as much as it pains us. It is through the very essence of Love that pain and suffering must be allowed, if only for a season.
Before diving into that, I would like to explore the nature of evil from a philosophical standpoint.
What is EVIL? Is there such thing as objective morality? Is something wrong because it is truly wrong, or is it based on our subjective interpretation? If we say that torturing a baby for fun is wrong, are we saying something that is objectively true? If we conclude that there is moral objectivity, then we conclude that there is an objective moral law. Yet, if we conclude that there is an objective moral law then we must also conclude that there is a moral law giver. That moral law giver is the very being that the atheist is trying to prove does not exist, yet if you conclude that there is no objective morality you are left with a very uncomfortable conclusion. If it is true that life itself is based on an unintelligible random process then you must also conclude that there is no difference between killing an innocent human being and taking antibiotics to kill off a virus inside of you. Both lifeforms are the result of a random process and both life forms carry the same value. With that belief being the basis of your worldview, the placing of a greater importance on a human life is subjective and not based on reality. Based on this worldview, there is no intrinsic value. Where then, does our subconscious understanding of the value of a human life come from? Is it simply the result of random process manufacturing a false sense in order to improve the chance of survival? How does that occur in a random unintelligible process? How does one explain the nature of love with that worldview?
I believe that only the Christian worldview can explain these questions. Why evil? Why suffering?
Should God stop all evil and suffering? Understand what we are asking here; not only would God have to stop the things we want him to stop – such as murder, rape and physical abuse, but he would also have to stop greed, lust and even something as basic as a short temper. What then becomes of us? Naturally, we lose free will. We would essentially become automatons – all of our thoughts and emotions controlled by our creator. None of them our own. What then becomes of love? Can love exist in a world where our thoughts and actions are controlled? God understands the importance of free will. This universe was designed as a means for imperfect beings to grow spiritually – in order to understand the true nature of love itself.
There is a song by Garth Brooks called “The Dance”. It is a story of heartache at the end of a beautiful relationship, where one looks back at all of the good times they shared. The conclusion being that it is better to not have known how it would end – because although it would have been possible to prevent the heartache, you would have also have had to miss “the dance”.
From the Christian perspective, God as a perfect being did not have to leave the comforts of his eternal throne. Yet, as the greatest expression of love, he came here and took on human flesh in the form of Jesus. When the time was right, he took on all of the sins that every human being ever committed and ever will commit. That burden was so severe and painful for him to endure. It was so emotionally straining – that all of the capillaries in his body burst and he was literally sweating blood. When the moment was right, he sacrificed himself for the atonement of our sins. He could have stopped it at any moment – but he didn’t. Because he knew that the short term suffering was right for the greater good. His love for us allowed him to endure all of our pain, suffering, embarrassment, loneliness, heartache -all of it. He understands what we are going through – because he literally experienced it for himself at the moment of his passion. He loves us all and the pain and suffering we are
going through in our life hurts him as well. So while bad things do happen, it is only for a season. God will end the pain and suffering. He will end evil. But he will not do so until the maximum number of souls are saved. It is impossible for us to understand from our limited perspective. When you consider God’s perspective – where he can see the beginning, the end and every single moment in between. He understands perfectly that the short term suffering is worth enduring for what is to come. The end of this world / universe; and the birth of a new one where nothing decays. Where there is no suffering. Where there is no evil – but one where we understand the true nature of Love as a result of this current reality.