The Source of Suffering and Evil

This is a perennial question. Over the years I have struggled with it and I know other people struggle with it too.  It keeps coming back up, over and over…

Why does God allow suffering and evil?

What are the problems here?

Suffering seems so unfair. Where does it come from?  Why is suffering visited upon the innocent?  People who do no wrong or people who do not harm others?  What about innocent babies?  Why do they suffer?  What about the countless innocents who die in time of war?  What about the young teen life that is snuffed out in an auto accident?

Why do Christians suffer?

People who profess faith in God: shouldn’t they be protected from suffering?

What about evil? We all saw what happened on September 11, 2001.  Did evil triumph on that day?  What about the heinous acts that occur every day, some which go unpunished.  Some which result in benefit for the perpetrator of the evil.  How can this be?

Let’s get into the basics. It is in the basics where we can begin to find a response to these recurring questions.

First and foremost, the most common tendency for human beings is to look around for someone to blame when things go wrong.   The first place many people go to when suffering and evil occur is God.  Why?  Because God is all powerful.

God should be able to stop the criminal from acting. The child born with the abnormality could have been fixed by God in the womb.  The teen could have steered clear of the deadly crash because God could have taken the wheel.

The last place we want to go for blaming when things go wrong is right here: ourselves.

Let’s burrow down into the basics.

God had a good plan for man, in fact it was a perfect plan.

Adam and Eve [the first man and the first woman] messed up God’s perfect plan.

In the beginning, man and woman were not created with evil. They did not have to experience suffering.  They were in a wonderful place, capable of enjoying the best life possible.  They did have a power that was their eventual downfall.  They had the ability to choose to obey God.

Why would God give man that ability?

The simple answer is that love is in the choice.

Let’s examine that for a minute. I have a spouse and I choose to love her.  I choose to spend my life with her.  I hope she chooses to do the same regarding me.  However, she does not have to choose me.  She has options.  She can choose to leave me and live alone.  She can choose to divorce me and find another person to live with.  She can exercise a multitude of options.

She has not done any of the above…yet.

She has chosen to stay with me.

It is in the choosing to stay with me that love is expressed.

The first man and the first woman had a choice to obey God or not, to love God or not. What did they do?  They chose to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Again, why did God give Adam and Eve a choice.   He wanted them to pick Him.  He wanted them to obey Him.  He wanted them to love Him.

Could God have taken away their power to choose? Yes He could and what would that have done for the first man and the first woman?  That would have made them robots.

God did not intend for man to make this choice.

It is their fault that suffering and evil entered the world.

It is their fault that sin entered the world.

Man and woman are responsible, not God.

The basic idea of life today is the active nature or sin in this world today. When man rebelled against God, Paul Little states, “every one of us from that time until now has ratified that rebellion.”

Think about it. I try to do good but like Paul in Romans “I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate to do, I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.”

Sin is living in all of us. We try like Paul but we fail over and over. We suffer over and over.  We do evil over and over.

When the first man and the first woman were in the Garden, they had their chance but they blew it. They ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  After they did that, they had no chance to be immortal because God would not allow it.  There was a way; God could have allowed them to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life.  But what happened?  God banished them from the Garden and took them away from the Tree of Life.  God placed a cherubim with a flaming sword at the entrance to keep them from coming back in.  They knew good and evil and they introduced good and evil into the world.  They were stuck.

Their chance was gone. Their choice was made.

We are destined to have suffering in this world. We are destined to have evil.

And it is man and woman’s fault.

 

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