These are all good questions. In an earlier post I talked about ‘Why is there evil and suffering?‘ But I want to continue that thought so we see the bigger picture.
I want you to consider how God could have created the world.
- God could have chosen not to create the world at all. Then there would be no evil, but there also would not be anything.
- God could have created a world with creatures that have no free will. In this case, there would be no morality whatsoever. It would be a world full of robots. Nothing would go wrong. But what kind of world would that be? It certainly wouldn’t have been a world of love since love requires a choice.
- God could have created a world with free creatures and then He could have intervened all the time to stop them from choosing wrong. What kind of world would that be. How often should God intervene? All the time? Some of the time? Only in the bad situations? The problem is that in a world without consequences, our actions don’t mean anything at all.
- But God created a world with free creatures that have the possibility to choose both good and evil. If God is both all-good and all-powerful, this was His best option, since it is the only world with real choices. In order to choose good, there needs to be the option to not choose good. Maybe this is why God allows evil and the suffering consequences: in order to allow the most noble of all ethics, the ability to choose love. This means it’s possible to have free will without evil, but there is no guarantee. God is wiling to take the risk. Actually God knew we would chose wrong, yet created us anyway because He loves us (Romans 5:8).
Okay, so God created a world where evil and suffering are constant realities. How do we handle all the bad things that happen to us? I want to encourage you if you are going through a hard time today. I hope these will help you.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
The truth is, God has delayed cleaning up the evil in the world because some of that evil is in us, and He wants to give us a chance to repent before He judges the world. This is evidence of a loving God. But one day God will judge all evil and end all suffering.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
God promises a time of no more crying, no more pain, no more suffering. We’ll be united with Him in perfect harmony forever and ever.
2 – Any suffering we experience in this life pales in comparison to the good God has in store for His followers.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor. 4:17)
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:18)
We don’t want to deny the reality of pain and suffering in this world. But after 15 million years in Heaven, all the troubles in this life are going to seem insignificant. God will have wiped all the tears from your eyes.
I like the story of a young man in the hospital. At the age of one he fell down some stairs and shattered his back. He’d been in and out of the hospital all his life. But he made the claim that God was fair. So his pastor asked him, “How old are you?” The young man said, “I’m 17 years old.” How many years have you spent in the hospitals?” he asked. The young man said, “I’ve spent 13 years in hospitals.” The pastor said, “And you think that’s fair?” The boy looked back and said, “Well, you know. God has all of eternity to make it up to me.”
3 – You decide whether suffering will harden or soften you.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Jesus made it clear that in this world we will have sorrow. All of us. Suffering is an opportunity for good to happen. But it’s up to us. Not all of us will benefit from suffering and learn from it. God promises to walk with us in our pain and suffering if we let Him. Will you let Him?
Read more: God Questions.