What a statement, huh? Why is there suffering in the world? Does God even care? Does God even exist? Innocent bystanders — especially children – frequently suffer for the evil or poor choices of others. Children starve to death (even in the US). Innocents are sexually molested by older people who know better (and even some who don’t). Innocents are murdered, sometimes very painfully and brutally, often without reason. If there is a God then why do these things happen?? I do not propose to have all the answers or to be able to adequately answer this question to the satisfaction of every non-believer. However, having suffered some myself (haven’t we all?) and having negatively effected innocents I do understand this a bit, especially having maintained an intimate relationship with God.
These questions have often stumped me; not because I do not know or understand the answer to the question, "why does God allow the innocent to suffer" but rather because I do not know how to answer it as if to one who does not believe in God or understand who He is, His purpose, etc. The simple answer is a question:
How can God, no matter how powerful, effectively protect innocent children from the evil of the world without making the world perfect and thereby removing the ability to choose?
The world was once perfect; there was no suffering, no pain, no hunger and every child — were there any — would be happy, healthy and well fed. We chose this earth. Maybe not you and me personally but we do effect others’ lives with our mistakes. Take my life for example: I have in the past abused my health which makes me very stressed and extremely irritable which makes me short-tempered with my children. Though that short-tempered fussing at them is not as damaging as starvation or sexual molestation or something more extreme, it does negatively effect their lives. Or take my sister, Mary, as an example: She had sex before marriage — her right to choose such — and became pregnant. Though she did her best she was not the perfect mother (though none of us are) mainly because of the difficulties of raising a child at Mary’s young age. Mary was not mature enough to be a mother and both her and her child suffered for it.
Take more extreme cases like hunger to the point of starvation: What are YOU doing to feed the hungry? What am I doing to feed the hungry?? Nothing! (Well I am doing nothing. I don’t know what you are doing.) So "is there a God or not" is not really the question but rather "what is my responsibility and what is the responsibility of other people OR ‘greater power’?". Is it God’s responsibility to feed the hungry? What should He do about hunger??
I have given a lot of thought about this. I know two ladies who refuse to have a relationship with God all because of the suffering innocents. However in their lives they have made others suffer by their poor choices. We all do. (Even if it is only the suffering our parents feel — because of their love for us — when we make poor choices.) Is it God’s fault or our own?
To say that God should feed hungry children is to blame God for OUR poor choices when in fact it is NOT God’s fault that we choose poorly and others suffer but our own. I cause innocents to suffer and I am certain that some short coming you have has caused an innocent person to suffer no matter how small. Simply: pain, suffering, hunger and every bad, evil or negative thing exists because sin entered the world when two people made a BIG mistake. Sin enters your life (and my life) when you first choose to sin. But GOD in His infinite mercy and love wipes away those sins and will make our lives more purposeful and whole if we choose the forgiveness He so easily and eagerly offers us.
I respect the difficulty that people have with this whole thing. I have suffered a lot in my life but I can look back and most of it has a definite purpose in my life. In fact, I cannot think of a single major difficult event in my life that did not have a purpose.
Take, for example, two instances that stand out in my mind as major suffering moments for me:
When I was 17 I had a bad car accident. It was a really tough time for me and I couldn’t understand why God allowed it to happen. At the time I thought it had something to do with the guy I ended up dating. I was sure he would have never noticed me if I hadn’t had a near-death experience (and also lost weight making me 120 lbs!). However, God had a much deeper purpose than that (though I did learn a lot from that failed relationship). When I was released from the hospital it was my sister Mary who picked me up. I remember it like it was yesterday. She took me to the cafeteria to get my first real food in a while. (I had been on a liquid diet the whole time in the hospital. NO FUN!) I ate a roast beef sandwich and I can still remember how great it tasted after a week of clear liquids! But it was not the sandwich that made the event so important. Before this life altering event my sister and I were no more than blood relatives. She didn’t like me and I didn’t like her. We loved each other as you do any sister – good or not – but that was it. I still think that my car accident made us both realize the fragility of our lives and made us wake up and realize how little we knew or cared for each other. That day was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Additionally, another suffering moment, I chose to attend York College in NE to be close to my sister instead of going to Harding or Ohio Valley College. She had urged me to move closer to her. During the breaks from school and over the summer I lived with her and her husband and children. I was still a teenager and she parented me the best she could, even though she complained about it to Mom. We grew even closer as sisters and friends. I remember sharing a lot of good talks and great laughs during that time. It was a suffering time for me, though, because I did not really enjoy going to school in the land of no trees so far from my parents. Having grown up in the woods of North Carolina and never having been away from my parents for long I didn’t enjoy the trek across the US. I wanted to stay close to my parents. I missed my friends from NC and also greatly missed the woods!! So in the end I went back to NC after my freshmen year of college.
If it were not for those two major events I would have likely never formed such a close bond with my sister Mary. I cherish those times of trial and how close they brought us, especially now that my sister is in Heaven and I don’t see her much anymore and she never seems to respond to my phone calls… I did not understand these situations when they happened or why they were so hard on me, but God had a purpose and He understood them. These are not the only times I have suffered or even the most significant but they are the times I cherish the most since the loss of my sister.
You see the real answer is that time – from beginning to end – is like the most enormous puzzle you could ever imagine, with each choice, event, person, and trial being a tiny piece of it. Only God can see the whole puzzle so who are we to question one tiny piece and why God let it happen?
I hope my perspective has shed some light on God. If not then thanks for reading anyway. I know this was a long one. 🙂
x ❤ x
I could have provided Bible verses for much of this but didn’t see the point since a non-believer wouldn’t care what the Bible has to say if they do not believe in God.