“How can God be good and allow for pain & suffering?” (Part 3)
by John Hever
In parts 1 & 2, we’ve looked at the question of pain and suffering from the perspective of the Christian worldview. We tried to establish that evil and suffering are NOT Contrary to the Christian Worldview, and we examined how moral outrage reveals that we all instinctively recognize evil because God has hard-wired us to know right from wrong.
One of the quotes we’ve looked at is from the Greek philosopher Epicurus, who put it this way:
“Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to; or he cannot and does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, and does not want to, he is wicked. But, if God both can and wants to abolish evil, then how come evil is in the world?”
His point is that God’s goodness and evil in the world CANNOT co-exist. Well, I am gonna argue that the OPPOSITE is true; that if God is truly good…I mean really, really good, beyond your wildest imagination, then evil MUST exist. I know this seems crazy, but bear with me.
Let’s begin by examining WHY God allows pain and suffering. Even if evil and suffering entered the world through us, He still could have prevented it. For example, could God have prevented the fall? According to Biblical theology, the fall of Adam stained all humanity with a fallen nature, the desire to live independently from God. All evil that humanity engages in is the result of Adam, the head of the human race, leading us to rebel against God, out of the desire to call our own shots in life.
So, could God have prevented the fall? Yes. Could God have prevented the pain and suffering that have come into your life? Yes.
BUT- what God are we talking about? What kind of God would do that?
When you become a parent, you realize “This little thing could break my heart someday.” And yet, love drives you to give them freedom; to not control them, to not require robotic “love” from them, but to love them and hope they reciprocate. As a parent of four, it has been so tempting to protect them from their own choices. But true love gives true choice.
I suppose God could have made us like a pull-string toy puppet. Pull the string and out comes the response. But is that love?
Only a God who GENUINELY loves, who genuinely wants to know…YOU…would give you freedom, and give that same freedom to everyone else as well. And with that freedom comes the potential for doing evil.
To me, free will is an awesome, beautiful opportunity to follow my heart. And every human being lives as if they believe free will is legit. I do NOT want God to take away my free will. I relish it. But when it comes to evil coming upon me, due to the free will choice of another, well, that’s another story.
Truth is, we want free will for ourselves but not for those who might use their free will to hurt us.
We are not mere pawns on the chess board of life to God. Our freedom is genuine. Do you realize that God doesn’t force anyone to do right, to love Him, to obey Him, to love people, to do good, to resist evil? He could. But He doesn’t.
And unfortunately, what is at risk with God endowing us with free will, is His own reputation. God gets blamed every day for all the evil we pour out on one another, precisely because we’ve not believed in the powerful expression of love that free will reveals.
There is a dignity that God has given you, in free will, that He will not violate, because He respects you, even if you don’t respect Him.
God gets blamed for the evil humans commit.
God’s love is questioned because of the pain and suffering we bring on ourselves and on others.<All the while, God grants us what we cherish most, free will.
Imagining a world where God genuinely loves, and gives us genuine freedom, yet evil DOESN’T result, is merely a FANTASY. Such a world does not and cannot exist. Since evil is present in the world God created (due to free will), evil actually shows that God is good. He is really, really good…good enough to allow things that repulse Him.
As Sting, wrote, “If you love someone set them free.”
God gives us freedom because He loves.
Author: John Hever
June 27, 2019
February 22, 2019
Mikesell: Meal Train
December 03, 2018