Why is there suffering?

One of the most commonly heard questions is “If there is a God, why is there suffering in the world?”

There are 2 aspects to a response to this:

Firstly, if there is no God, on what basis can anyone say that suffering is bad? With an atheistic evolutionary world view, suffering is a normal, natural part of a ‘survival of the fittest’ world. The strongest survive, the weak die, and there is no good or bad in that. There is no moral basis to say suffering is bad, or in fact anything that anything is good or bad, or right or wrong.

So for the question to make sense, there has to be an acknowledgement that there is something bad about suffering, and hence that there is reality beyond just the material world.

However, if there is a God, one who created us and the universe, then he is, by definition, beyond our ability to comprehend all his purposes. So we have to admit that he may have a good reason beyond our comprehension for temporarily allowing suffering.

To give a more down to earth example, I had a dog with a heart problem. For 2 years, until it died of another cause, I used to daily put a heart tablet down it’s throat, no other method seemed to work. It was unpleasant for her, as well as me. She could not understand why I inflicted this suffering on her. But I actually had a good reason, to save her life.

The Bible tells us it is the same with us and God. He has his reasons for letting suffering continue. He is delaying bringing this broken suffering world to a close, because “he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) However, Peter then goes on to say that God will not wait forever. The day of judgement will come. In the mean time he says we should “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18). How is your knowledge of Jesus going?

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