I see and hear a lot of people say, “if there is a God, why is there suffering?” Why doesn’t He stop it? This is one of the most difficult questions for Christians to answer. You see, the belief is, that God is the cause of every event that takes place. All tragedies or circumstances that occur in this life, are not God’s fault. There are different explanations for why God allows suffering, but unfortunately none of them can satisfy everyone. This topic will either push you away from God or can draw you closer. I have seen both instances first hand. There are a lot of questions on this subject and to avoid a very long blog I am going to discuss it in two separate writings. Today, I want to examine freewill or our choices. Does suffering happen because of our choices? In part 2 we will discuss why the innocent suffer.
God could have made us like machines, to make us do exactly like He wants us to do. Machines do not make choices. Machines cannot experience joy or pain. They do not have a free will. God gave us the ability to think for ourselves, a free will. He gives us commands and instructions through his Word about how to live, but He allows us to decide whether to obey or not. God would not accomplish His purpose in our lives if He were to deny us the freedom to make choices. Jesus Christ loves us and wants everyone to follow Him. He is not going to force you to live for Him, that is why we all have a choice. A choice between right and wrong, a choice to love and follow Him. A God of hate would tell people precisely what to do, acting as a puppeteer. A God of love, though, warns His people of what they should do, explains the advantages of being obedient versus being disobedient and then gives us the choice.
So, we know there is tragedy all around us, whether it’s personal or globally. God made this world perfect, but sin creeped in. God commanded Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, while in the garden of Eden saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). The very fact that God commanded them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil implies that they could eat of it if they desired to go against the command of God. With choice came responsibility. Man, as a free moral agent is reason man has tried to shift the responsibility of his own guilt. Adam blamed Eve for his sin and Eve blamed the serpent, but each was accountable for their own sin.
Some suffering in the world is a result of human beings turning away from God. Instead of doing what is right, what pleases God, we all do what pleases ourselves, at the expense of angering God, and hurting other people. Think about these things. The alcoholic that causes a car accident, is not God’s fault! It’s because the drunk driver chose to get behind the wheel of a car. Why did the family get evicted from their home? Well they never paid their rent. Then you have people who make the decision, to harm innocent people. This would explain many of the tragedies of the world. Much suffering can be attributed to the malicious or irresponsible acts of others.
Evil started with sin coming into the world and man’s movement towards evil has multiplied ever since. So much so that Romans 3 describes us as people “whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:14–18).
Most misery is brought about by Satan’s pervasive influence over people and their ideas and attitudes.
We tend to forget that Satan is involved in so many things. He wants you to turn away from God. When you turn your back on God, Satan has you. There is no in between.
How many of you can look back on your lives and see that certain difficult events prepared you for things later in life? Sometimes we have pain and suffering so that we can help others, who are dealing with the same problems later on. While sometimes we have our own questions, we must trust God’s wisdom. Remember that as a Christian we are promised a “perfect city” in heaven, not on earth. Those who have gone before us have suffered both persecution and afflictions of the flesh, counting the suffering worthwhile because the result is the reward to those who endure.