One of the most difficult questions that we face as human beings is, “If God is good why doesn’t He stop all the pain and suffering in this world?” This line of thinking has caused many people to abandon their faith, fall into sin, stumble in their walk, or even become atheists. As compassionate followers of Christ we must seek to know and understand God and how this knowledge of God relates to human suffering.
Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
3:8 And they heard the voice 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 amongst the trees of the garden.
God’s original creation was perfect and free from any pain or suffering; there was no sickness, no depression, and no death. Everything was very good. It was into this perfect world that God placed Adam and Eve. All they had ever known from the moment of their creation was perfect goodness, joy, peace, and pleasure. God in His infinite wisdom gave man the free choice to enjoy only goodness for ever or to experience a mixture of good and evil, pleasure and pain, life and death, joy and depression. God desired for man to only experience good, so He commanded Adam to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. However, man freely chose to know what it was like to experience good and evil. This sin was in itself a deliberate choice to experience evil, pain, and suffering. All sin is akin to this sin; all sin is a desire to experience a mixture of good and evil, pain and pleasure, joy and suffering. We can then conclude that all suffering is the result of the fall and our deliberate choice to walk away from the goodness of God and instead experience good and evil.
Romans 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
Because of our sin the whole world is now broken and travailing in pain. Sin has started an avalanche of suffering that only God in His mercy can stop. There is coming a day when He will bring an end to the suffering and pain by restoring His people and all of creation to His perfect goodness. We need to remember that all suffering is caused by sin in general but specifically the sin of Adam in the Garden. However, there are specific instances of pain or loss that are not caused by a specific sin; they are just part of living in a fallen world that our sin helped destroy. Job suffered immensely, but his suffering was not the direct result of any particular sin in his life. His suffering was part of living in a fallen world broken by sin. We will look in depth at Job and why bad things happen to good people later on in this study.
Hosea 2:5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.
2:6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.
2:7 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.
2:8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.
2:9 Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness.
2:10 And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand.
2:11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
2:12 And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.
2:13 And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.
2:14 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.
2:15 And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
2:16 And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.
2:17 For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.
2:18 And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.
2:19 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.
2:20 I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.
As we will see later on, God is glorified in redeeming us and this fallen world. The pain and suffering we experience in this life has a purpose that will bring about God’s glory and our good. For now we want to see that one of the primary reasons for pain and suffering is to bring us back to the Father where we will experience joy and pleasure. The path away from God is like running through thorns; it hurts. God has intentionally designed sin to produce pain, suffering, and loss so that we will run to Him.