This is probably the #1 unanswered question for most Bible students. If God is the loving, caring, compassionate being that we think He is, why doesn’t He intervene in the affairs of man and stop all the pain and suffering that is being endured — especially by the “innocents.”
This is one of the most difficult questions in all of theology. It has been called, atheism’s most potent weapon against the Christian faith.
If God is eternal, omniscient, and omnipotent, why does he allow the atrocities around us to go on? Or even IF there is a God, why does God allow mankind to suffer?
If God is loving and merciful why does He allow a, b, and c?
Children (or the innocent for that matter of fact) die; Why does He allow starving; diseases or any one of various modalities of pain to persist?
If He is all powerful and all-knowing then why doesn’t he intervene with …
War, pestilence, sickness and, famine
Is it because He is the capricious God that other religions believe in?
Is I that he is not involved in the affairs of man (of course this is not what Christianity believes)?
There is a reason this is one of the most asked for booklets within the church of God. When people look at the state of the world and try to marry it up with the merciful and compassionate God that they think that they know they are left with more answers than questions.
Priests answer (came across this in a search on the internet)
Someone asked a similar question:
Sometimes I get so frustrated that I look up at the sky and ask: “Lord, do you still work for a living? Why can’t you DO something? Is a little humane treatment of my daughter by her peers too much to ask [being bullied]?”
Priests answer: In short, Mr. Weaver, I know and share your feelings of frustration with divine providence. Often, I just cannot figure out what our allegedly merciful Lord is up to. It does not make much sense to me, and it makes me really angry at times. And when I look at the Bible, I am in good company. They couldn’t always figure God out either. Even Jesus felt that way on the Cross.
So, what is God up to when He permits innocent people to suffer — prolonged, grinding misery — and prayerful appeals to His mercy seem to fall on deaf ears? I honestly don’t know.
Well he is in good company….
Pope Benedict doesn’t know the answer either [USA Today article]
Most of the questions grapple with suffering. The first question posed came from Elena, a Japanese girl who told the pope many children her age were killed and asked why children have to be so sad.
“I also have the same questions: why is it this way? Why do you have to suffer so much while others live in ease?” Benedict said. “And we do not have the answers but we know that Jesus suffered as you do, an innocent.”
We need to begin with:
First, why is the world in the state that it is in?
Reap What You Sow
Galatians 6:6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
One of the main reasons for the state of the world
Let’s look at some of the health issues mankind is facing at the moment…
Poor choices –preventable health issues
Accidents – Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of fatal accidents among men. To stay safe on the road, use common sense. Wear your seat belt. Follow the speed limit. Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or any other substances, and don’t drive while sleepy.
Smoking — Chronic lung conditions — which include Lung Cancer, emphysema, COPD, bronchitis
Sexually Transmitted Diseases — abstinence
Obesity — Excess body fat is one of the most common medical conditions in the United States. Obesity can reduce life expectancy by several years and lead to other serious health problems.
Heart disease – goes hand in hand with obesity
The point here isn’t to lecture on diet and exercise but to show causation…
Many of the problems that we have today are self-inflicted. The world is reaping what it has sow
We Are Not Content
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:
Philippians 4:12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Man gets into trouble when he is not happy with his current state and he begins to covet and chooses to put himself selfishly ahead of everyone else: steal, libel/slander, killing and bringing problems on themselves. This is counterproductive to peace and the general well-being of others.
The world is in the condition it is in because many in an area start acting in this same way and this can begin to affect many adversely and more quickly and effectively.
When there are many people that are making poor choices, and are not content around us, it can’t help but impact the lives of those around them…why we see cultures. People act like those around them. If they are acting in the manner that they do singly, but now in a collective manner, can we now imagine the impact that it will have – the problems will increase greatly
James 4:1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
James 4:2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
Leaders and evil men will, because of these covetous reasons lead willing men to war to try and take what they want.
We are familiar with many tyrants and dictator throughout history, and their motives have always been greed, power and envy (the base aspects of our human nature).
The repercussions of war can in turn lead to death, famine, disease and many of the things that we see today.
We have been building up and now we come to the real cause -> Satan and Demons
God of This World
Satan is called the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4).
He rules from his throne, right here on the earth (Revelation 2:13).
Satan and his demons are the current “rulers” of this world.
Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age [world; KJV], against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Satan “deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). Not just some or most but the WHOLE world. He is not to be taken lightly!
Please turn with me to John 8:44 and let’s look at what Christ said to the Pharisees:
John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
He is a murderer because that is what he inspires others to do beginning with Cain. Satan has the power to influence people to go to war.
He has done it in the past and will do it again in the future!
Revelation 16:13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
Revelation 16:14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
The devil has the ability to inspire wrongdoing through the spirit of error that 1 John 4:6 speaks of.
Ephesians 2:2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience
Herbert Armstrong put it this way, “The spirit in every human being is automatically tuned in on Satan’s wavelength. You don’t hear anything because he does not broadcast in words — nor in sounds, whether music or otherwise. He broadcasts in ATTITUDES. He broadcasts in attitudes of self-centeredness, lust, greed, vanity, jealousy, envy, resentment, competition, strife, bitterness, and hate”.
“In a word, the selfishness, hostility, deceitfulness, wickedness, rebellion, etc. that we call Human NATURE is actually SATAN’S NATURE. It is Satan’s ATTITUDE. And broadcasting it, surcharging the air with it, Satan actually NOW WORKS IN the unsuspecting all over the world today! That is HOW Satan deceives the whole world today (Revelation 12:9; 20:3). Being invisible, Satan is not seen by people.”
It is by these means that Satan is able to hold the people of this world captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26)
It has been this way since the very beginning:
First bad decision – let’s notice how he did it…
Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;
God told man that he could eat FREELY from the tree of life. Had he done that, he would have received the Holy Spirit the power of God and all that comes with it (understanding the things of God). Had he done that he could have avoided most of the problems we face today.
Genesis 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” [so he made a wife — Eve]
Genesis 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Continuing in chapter 3:
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
Genesis 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;
Genesis 3:3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
At this point neither Adam nor Eve had shown a predisposition for going against the ways that they were instructed in by God (Genesis 3:2-3).
Genesis 3:4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
Genesis 3:5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
We notice then, that after the creation of man and woman and up until Genesis 3:6 there is no indication of wrongful human nature.
Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
So, what is it that changed and brought about man’s sin? In the beginning of Genesis 3 there is the introduction of an ungodly influence, the serpent, which is none other than the devil. Satan, not by force, begins to work on Eve until he corrupts her and deceives her (2 Corinthians 11:3) into taking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that God had explicitly told them not to eat from. After eating of the tree and giving some of the fruit to Adam of which he ate also, a CHANGE happens.
Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
Genesis 3:8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
They began to act differently. They now hid their nakedness from their Creator …this wasn’t an issue before as we read. This change in their nature and the way that they acted happened when chose to follow Satan and reject or rebel against what God had told them.
This set mankind on a path…
It was through this initial act that Suffering entered this world and ever since man has been on a path that leads to the suffering and death. Mankind has for the most part in this vein been reaping what he has sown.
In subsequent chapters, the effect on human nature is realized with the murder of Abel and culminating quite quickly in God becoming so sorrowful with the wickedness and evilness of man that He destroyed the whole world, save eight (Genesis 6:5).
So, knowing who Satan is and the influence that he exerts and that he is the current ruler of this world, we can now clearly see the ORIGIN of suffering and the current condition of the world.
Mankind though a willing accomplice, for the most part has been unknowingly duped into following Satan’s ways and rejecting and rebelling against God!
That being said, Why is God not intervening for everyone now?
Free Moral Agency
Man, is a free moral agent with the ability to choose—good as well as evil
Acts 14:15-16 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.
God has allowed nations to walk in their own ways. He has allowed man this free moral agency. Why is God allowing this?
To Show That Our Actions Have Consequences!
Inexorable Spiritual laws of cause and effect that God has set in motion…
Deuteronomy 28:1 “Now it shall come to pass, if [conditional promise] you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, [now the promise] that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.
Deuteronomy 28:2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:
Deuteronomy 28:3 “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.
Deuteronomy 28:4 “Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
Deuteronomy 28:5 “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
Deuteronomy 28:6 “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
Deuteronomy 28:7 “The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.
Deuteronomy 28:8 “The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
Deuteronomy 28:9 “The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.
Deuteronomy 28:14 So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
[Now the flip side]
Deuteronomy 28:15 “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
Deuteronomy 28:16 “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.
Deuteronomy 28:17 “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
Deuteronomy 28:18 “Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
Deuteronomy 28:19 “Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
Deuteronomy 28:20 “The LORD will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me.
Deuteronomy 28:21 The LORD will make the plague cling to you until He has consumed you from the land which you are going to possess.
Deuteronomy 28:22 The LORD will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever, with the sword, with scorching, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish.
Deuteronomy 28:23 And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron. [a metaphor for drought and famine ] Deuteronomy 28:24 The LORD will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.
Deuteronomy 28:25 “The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth.
Deuteronomy 28:26 Your carcasses shall be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and no one shall frighten them away.
Deuteronomy 28:27 The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with tumors, with the scab, and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed.
Deuteronomy 28:28 The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of heart.
Deuteronomy 28:29 And you shall grope at noonday, as a blind man gropes in darkness; you shall not prosper in your ways; you shall be only oppressed and plundered continually, and no one shall save you.
Deuteronomy 28:45 “Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you.
Deuteronomy 28:46 And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever.
Deuteronomy 28:47 “Because you did not serve the LORD your God
Continue this thought:
Jeremiah 2:17 Have you not brought this on yourself, In that you have forsaken the LORD your God When He led you in the way? (Cause and Effect)
Jeremiah 2:18 And now why take the road to Egypt, To drink the waters of Sihor? Or why take the road to Assyria, To drink the waters of the River?
Jeremiah 2:19 Your own wickedness will correct you, And your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing That you have forsaken the LORD your God, And the fear of Me is not in you,” Says the Lord GOD of hosts.
God wants us to see the difference in the two ways of life; the two trees
Proverbs 14:12; 16:25 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
Our Ways Are Not Gods
God wants us to realize:
Isaiah 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
Because man does not have the spirit of God he chooses what he will do based on a selfish means
God Wants Us to Choose Wisely
Deuteronomy 30:15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil,
Deuteronomy 30:16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.
Deuteronomy 30:17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them,
Deuteronomy 30:18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess.
Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;
Deuteronomy 30:20 that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
God Would Rather Obedience than Sacrifice or Cursing’s for Our Sins
1 Samuel 15:22 So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”
The problem is that what has happened from the beginning and throughout the relatively short history of man will continue to happen in the future…man will continue to choose poorly
Is God really in Charge?
Yes, emphatically YES [and specifically in control of Satan the main culprit in mankind’s suffering]
Revelation 13 Notice that it is SATAN, the “dragon,” who gives his power and authority to the beast…but let’s notice by what mechanism he is able to do this
Revelation 13:4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”
Revelation 13:7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.
Satan can only do what God allows him to do! Satan is still subject to God who is so much more powerful than the devil and is still in complete control.
SO, IN A SENSE HE IS INTERVENING NOW
God has a Plan that He is working out here below.
Not intervening for everyone now, especially to the extent we think He should…but He will definitely do so later just as many would suspect a fair merciful and compassionate God to do!
Let’s make no mistake about it … God is in charge, BUT He is allowing Satan to rule this world, until the return of Christ who has qualified to replace Satan—returns to establish Kingdom of God here on the earth.
God made the decision NOT to intervene, in general, in the affairs of this world, in order to teach man the lesson that, without God, man is incapable of ever living happily or peaceably.
When Jesus Christ returns, He will THEN intervene in the affairs of mankind. He will put an end to wars, hunger, and sickness and diseases that have come upon this world. AND He will once again make his Holy Spirit FREELY available. It will enable mankind to know the mind of God, learn how to live a better way.
When this happens, we will truly see SUFFERING begin to end and ultimately it will be wiped away.
Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
Revelation 21:4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
What a wonderful time we have to look forward to when everyone will not only understand the mind of God and His perfect ways but everyone will have the mind of God and be living in absolute peace and harmony!