If God is good, why is there pain and suffering? Q1

God hurts when we hurt, but sometimes we can’t gain wisdom unless he allows us to suffer.

How Could There Be a Good God In a World Like This?
All of us recognize the fact that we live in a ‘less than perfect’ world. We all recognize that moral and natural evil abound. We all understand what it is to witness (or personally experience) these kinds of evil. We live in a world that is filled with crime, poverty, disease and natural disaster. And while we can talk about natural evil and moral evil in an analytical manner, in the end we need to address the manner in which we experience it. Evil presents itself to us individually through experiences of ‘pain’ and ‘suffering’. All of us have experienced some sort of pain; all of us have suffered in some way at one time or another. Theists and atheists alike have to account for the fact that the world is filled with pain and suffering, and atheists often see the existence of pain and suffering as evidence that God simply does not exist. Their argument goes something like this:

  1. If there is a God, He is, by definition, all powerful and all loving. In other words, if there is a God, he is a ‘good’ God.
  2. A good, all powerful and all loving God would not allow pain and suffering to exist in His created world
  3. Pain and suffering DO exist in our world
  4. Therefore, there is no good, all powerful, all loving God

Your parents probably said no to you on many occasions—or at least on a few. “No, don’t touch the stove; it’s hot!” “No, don’t run into the street; you could get hit by a car!”

Unless you were a miracle child, you probably disobeyed them at least once or twice. Perhaps you put your hand on the stove though you’d been warned it was hot, finding to your stubborn surprise that they were right—you got burned. They weren’t mean parents, trying to spoil your fun. They weren’t evil parents, leaving the burner on purposefully to cause you pain. They weren’t even powerless parents, unable to keep you away from the hot stove.

They were good and loving. They sought to protect you, giving you the information you would need to make a wise choice (stove=hot!). But you just didn’t listen—you couldn’t gain that wisdom without suffering. And with that wisdom, a trust in your parents’ instruction was cultivated as well.

The presence of pain, suffering, and evil in the world does not cancel out God’s kindness, goodness, powerfulness, or Fatherhood—just as a child touching a hot stove doesn’t negate the kindness, goodness, or powerfulness of his parents.

Consider This:

  1. Does it challenge you to compare God to your parents? If so, why?
  2. If God is a good Father (as he calls himself in the Bible), how would that change your view on the difficult things you have experienced in life?

Take Action:

Look back at the pain and suffering you’ve experienced. List the good things that came as a result of them.

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