"The question of pain and suffering presents the greatest challenge to belief in God." Over and over, I have heard God blamed for poverty, starvation and war. As Ravi states there are three postulations about God that are true yet, apparently contradictory or irreconcilable. They are : 1) God is all wise
2) God is all powerful and 3) God is loving and good and what is also true: Evil exists in time. The thought we have when we look at these three statements is that if God is good and loving then he would eradicate evil. If God is not able to eradicate evil, then he is not all powerful.
There is one more statement to those four which should be added and that is "God is eternal"
Suffering exists in time....however "time" as we know it is not even a blip on God's eternal radar. God did do something to eradicate evil....in the Garden of Eden when God was revealing the consequences of Adam and Eve's disobedience, he promised that of the couple's seed would come one who would "crush the serpent's head." And certainly, that is what transpired when the Son of God and woman came to earth in the body of a human. He suffered in that body, more than any of us will ever understand or experience. Why did he do that? The serpent was "bruising his heel" as he was in the process of crushing Satan's head.
On the cross, the question of evil, suffering and death was forever put to rest. Yes, there is pain in this life. But due to Jesus' accomplishment on the cross and his resurrection when once and for all, he defeated death---we can look forward to a time when suffering will not even cross our minds. All will be well, restored, and good. And that is how God's children will spend eternity: far removed from the pain of this life. So for the purpose of the greater good, God permits us to suffer for this little while. And our suffering on earth will just make heaven that much sweeter. When the quadriplegic, Joni Eareckson Tada takes her first steps in many many years--how sweet will that be? When my pain stops, how amazing that will be? There will be tears of joy as each of us looks back on what we have endured and we realize that never again will that suffering touch us.
Calvin Miller said something that struck me, "having answers is not essential to living . What is essential is the sense of God's presence during dark seasons of questioning"
And this from Why Suffering: "This is were the Christian message stands tall above any other teaching on pain and suffering and goes beyond any other answers to our problem. The intellectual answers are important. But intellect alone cannot help us navigate the minefield of pain and suffering. Other worldviews also offer intellectual answers. But Christianity alone offers a person."
I have shared here before about my experiences during one of my seven hip dislocations....when all I could say was "Jesus!! Jesus--where are you?" And God brought the verse to my mind that prophetically foretold of Jesus' crucifixion written by David in the Psalms. "All of my bones were out of joint." I gasped. He knew!! He knew my pain!!...He was right there with me. And my pain did not seem to be so burdensome and unendurable any longer. Now all I could say was "Jesus --thank you for what you went through on my behalf!"
During my most serious asthma attack to date, I could not move my body at all because it took the little breath that I had, away from me. I lay motionless for days....concentrating on breathing. And during that time as I walked the fine line between life and death, Jesus' presence was palpable. He was right there in that bed with me. And as a result, when I look back on that time, it is not my suffering that I recall but the sweet presence of my Lord.
I have one more thing I want to talk about. When Jesus preached a hard teaching, many of his disciples abandoned him. And Jesus questioned his disciples, "Will you also leave?" and Peter answered "Lord, to where would we go?"
This earth is chock full of anguish and pain. It is an unavoidable fact of this broken Creation. Suffering comes part and parcel with life here on earth. So whether we stick with our Savior Jesus, or we blame and abandon him, we will still suffer. Either way. So I would ask you, "To where would you go?" There is no other comfort; no other promise; no other source of power that will help you, save God alone. So if you want to spit in the face of the man who bought you heaven and eternal life--you are only hurting yourself. You will suffer pointless pain. Your pain will be pointless...but mine is not. My pain is my fellowship with Christ's cross. With each experience of unbelievable pain, I grow closer to my Jesus. I understand to a greater and greater degree, the cross of Christ. And I have comfort in my pain from my Lord. I have the promise of a time when I will have a new body that does not suffer. And I will have freedom from pain for all eternity. I will no longer recall what I suffered here -- and if I do, it will only serve to add to my joy.
I hope this article has helped you in some way to reconcile your questions about God's goodness and wisdom in the face of the suffering on this planet. We cannot blame God for the existence of suffering. Adam and Eve brought that on themselves and on us when they chose to disobey God. God told them not to eat the fruit of that tree --not to be mean-- but to prevent the opening of Pandora's box which would occur should they eat that fruit. Once that fruit was bitten, pain , suffering, death all entered this world. Creation itself was cursed. And we were in desperate need of a Savior. And the plan of the Trinity to provide just that was put into action.
Instead of blaming God for your pain, why not ask him to help you through it and to not leave you alone? He is waiting to bring you comfort in your pain. Bitterness only worsens suffering. Leave it behind you and seek your one consolation. I can attest to his willingness to be present and to bring peace in suffering.