One of the questions agnostics and atheist like to pose in their rejection of God is, why does he allow suffering. It is a legitimate question.
You read, watch, and hear, of the horror stories of how people suffer on this planet. The gut-wrenching images you see of starving babies and children in Sub Sahara Africa; some digging into the garbage dumps of major cities in search of scraps of food; bloody civil unrests and wars leaving many orphans to fend for themselves; the street children whose bed is the cold ground at nights; not to mention the child soldiers and those who are use as labourers for less than 50-cents a day. Where is God in all of these hours, days, weeks, months and years of misery and despair that plague humanity?
Where was God when those passenger planes came plummeting to the ground or in the cold and choppy waters of our seas and oceans with babies, children, seniors, and others onboard? Where was God in 911 when people were jumping from many stories up the World Trade Centre to escape the towering inferno?
There is untold suffering on this planet today in many other spheres of human lives. Hopelessness and suffering cripple our world. You hardly meet anyone in life who does not have a problem; when you hear some stories of suffering among even close friends, be it economic, health, marital or otherwise, many have asked this question. Where is God? To some of them, the existence of an all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent God does not make any sense whatsoever.
There is no doubt individual trials have forced some people to give up on God or reject him, as they cannot fathom how could He stand by and watch His creation suffer so much?
What’s the best explanation of God appearing not to care about the human condition? The first place to begin would be to answer the question: who gives and sustain life? Did you create the air you breathe, the food you eat? Did you create yourself?
We know the answer. Although there are some who would deny the Divine, the fact is if we did not create ourselves, someone must have done that not out of selfishness, but out of love.
In attempting to find some reasonable answers why the existence of God does not appear to make sense at times, we need to understand a few basic things that our finite minds allow us to know about YAHWEH.
Numbers 23:19 tells us, “God is not a man, that he should lie…” Hosea 11:9 “For I am God, and not a man-the Holy One among you.” Isa. 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
God does not think like us, neither is He on the same plane as human beings. He exists in sphere outside human comprehension, a dimension that differs from our own. Psalm 147:4-5 “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” Psalm 135:6, “The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.”
If we can come to the understanding that God’s thoughts are not like ours, and that He’s sovereign, cannot lie, is perfect, and all His attributes are true, then it would be much easier for us to comprehend why God allows things to happen, even the dreadful things. Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
God has a plan and purpose for humanity. When things don’t happen our way it does not mean God is not in charge or He doesn’t know what He’s doing. “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future,” Jeremiah 29:11.
Unbelievers may want you to believe that, but God is not dead! He’s alive and well and knows exactly what He’s doing. “It is impossible for God to lie!” Whatever He promises in His word He will do! God tells His people He will be with us “to the end of the age,” or the end of human history. God will carry you through the storms of life. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze,” Isaiah 43:2. Joshua 1:5, “I will not leave you or forsake you.”
However, we must remember through our very own actions God may appear to be far away from us. Isa. 59:1, “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities (lawlessness) have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters injustice…”
We go through different trials and sufferings for a purpose. Sometimes, we live long enough in this life to see why God allow us to go through such experiences. There are many other experiences, even on an international scope, that we may not understand now. However, we must believe our Great God is sovereign and all the sufferings of humanity, the fall-out we pay for sin, will come to an end one day, and only then we will have a better understanding why there are times when it appears that the existence of God does not make sense.
1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Romans 8: 17 “…if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” For more on this subject, download FREE our booklet, Who, What, is God?