God made it possible, relatively easy to live without Him. He is a free choice. Love, by definition is a free choice.
God and Suffering
If God is omnipotent, all loving, all knowing, why does He allow suffering?
The Bible declares that there is a God of love. Why then, is there so much suffering in the world? Why does He not stop it if He is The Almighty?
If we do not believe in a Good Creator Who created everything, but believe that it all happened purely by chance and for no reason at all, it would be even more difficult to try and explain the reason for so much suffering in this world – just senseless and bad luck, the way the dice is falling. No ultimate meaning or purpose for suffering on either a personal nor the global scale.
But if there is a Creator, would one not expect to find an answer to this difficult question?
If we trust the integrity of the One Who created it all, trust Him that He would not be so heartless as to leave humanity (people He created with hearts and emotions) without an answer, we would surely expect of Him to reveal the reason behind the suffering.
I can find no better place for the answer to this question than in a Book that spans the history of humankind - A Book that starts with the story of the first humans on this planet and continues into the future history of man. The history of man who received a spirit that distinguishes him from all other living creatures. Genesis 2:7 ‘Then the Lord God formed man from the dust* of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath (or spirit) of life, and man became a living being.’ (dust* the same essential chemical elements are found in man as well as animal life from the soil/earth. But only man in the whole of creation received a spirit and a consciousness of God).
God is love and by definition, love is free. God has given man a free will, to respond to His love or reject it. God is all good, perfect goodness. To reject Him, is to reject what is good. To reject good is to chose evil. Evil is that what is not of God.
If we trust the integrity of the Creator to have made a book available, the Bible, that claims to be the Word of God, and not to be partly or completely false, misleading billions of people over the whole history of humanity, would we not expect to find many of the answers on suffering within this book?
Genesis 1:1 ‘In the beginning God created the heaves and the earth’ (the Big Bang - time, space and matter out of nothing at a particular moment. On scientific grounds only realized in the 20th century. A moment that was preceded by literally nothing - nothing as in what a rock dream of; nothing - Socrates)
Genesis 1:31 ‘God looked at everything He had made, and He was very pleased’
If God made everything good, what went wrong? Could it be man’s choices?
Genesis 6:5 ‘When the LORD saw how wicked everyone on earth was and how evil their thoughts were all the time, He was sorry that He had ever made them and put them on the earth.’
Genesis 6:6-7 ‘He was so filled with regret that He said, "I will wipe out these people I have created, and also the animals and the birds, because I am sorry that I made any of them.”’
Why was God sorry that He created us? Because God is so infinitely perfect and holy, perfect goodness. And man chose to use his free will and choose what is not of God - evil ... not to love God with all of our heart, all of our mind and all of our soul/spirit. But to love ourselves above Him, above our fellow beings and all the idols in our lives; money, possessions, popularity, all not of Him.
Leviticus 19:2 ‘Be holy, because I, the LORD your God, am holy.’
Habakkuk 1:13 ‘Your (God’s) eyes are too holy to look at evil, and You (God) cannot stand the sight of people doing wrong.’
We chose to love ourselves more that God, more than other people, be our own gods and take the highest priority in our lives. And all the strife and hardships follow from this.
But God is full of compassion and love.
II Chronicles 30:9 ‘If you return to the LORD, ...... the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn His face from you if you return to Him.’
And He made a love covenant with man:
Deuteronomy 7:9 ‘He will keep His covenant and show His constant love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and obey His commands, but He will not hesitate to punish those who hate Him.’
There are two reasons for the suffering of human kind; 1. the consequences of disobedience, that is bluit into nature and wickedness of the heart, chosing evil above good, but also that 2. in our suffering we would seek Him and return to Him.
It is in our suffering that we most often experience the deepest meaning in life, often drawn the closest to God. It is in suffering that some of the best books are written, poems written and music composed. The discipline of plastic and reconstructive surgery was born out of the atrocities of the second world war with so many burned and maimed soldiers that needed reconstruction. There are so many other examples where suffering led to good. It was through the suffering of Christ on the cross that new life became the gift that brings us back to God.
Amos 4:6 ‘I was the one who brought famine to all your cities, yet you did not come back to Me.’
Amos 4:9 ‘I sent a scorching wind to dry up your crops. Still you did not come back to Me.’
Amos 5:6 ‘Go to the LORD, and you will live. If you do not go, He will sweep down like fire’
Ezekiel 14:12 & 21. 12 ‘if a country sins and is unfaithful to me, l will stretch out My hand and destroy its supply of food. I will send a famine and kill people and animals alike. 21 This is what the Sovereign LORD is saying: "I will send My four worst punishments - war, famine, wild animals and disease.
God is love.
1 John 4:16 ‘And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.’
Hosea 11:8 ‘How can I (God) give you up, .... How can I abandon you? Could I ever destroy you? My heart will not let Me do it. My love for you is too strong.’
He became part of our suffering.
John 3:16 ’For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God is perfectly righteous and true to the covenant He made with man and therefore will punish sin as a perfect and righteous God but His heart hurts by doing it and He identifies with the suffering of man, became part of it. And when we relieve suffering of others, we relieve His pain.
God is righteous and will punish evil and would be unjust to just forgive all of us. Would it be fair to forgive a Hitler who killed and maimed millions of inoccent people, never confessed his atrocities, never said he was sorry in the same way as to forgive a mother Theresa, who spent her life doing good, helping people, confessed her sin and said she was sorry about the wrong in her life (as we all do wrong, there is none who does not)? NO, it will not be fair!
Sin in the heart of man brought God’s wrath, suffering on the world. It hurts Him as much as it hurts us.
Romans 8:22 ‘We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.’
Suffering will be part of creation until the end of time but seeking God and coming to Christ will set us free from our part in sin, our guilt, and will give meaning and hope and courage in our lives.
2 Corinthians 1:5 ‘For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.’
Hebrews 2:9-11 .... it was fitting that God, for Whom and through Whom everything exists, should make the Author (Christ) of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the One Who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.’
There is immense meaning in suffering.
It enriches our lives.
Acts as a stimulus to bring us back to God.
Suffering provided the means to have a real loving relationship with Him though Christ.
We are all under God’s wrath and are suffering because man’s choice of sin. Christ suffered on our behalf to give us hope and turn God’s wrath away and protect us from eternal suffering.
Man’s sin makes him unacceptable to a perfectly holy God. But the God Who is love made a covenant with man to bless him if he lives a life of obedience. But no one is without sin (I John 1:8 ‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us’) and we stay under His wrath. He sent His Son to die on our behalf for the wickedness of our hearts and set us free from the eternal wrath of God. The world, however, is still wicked and under God’s wrath but those who have come to Him have a better understanding of this suffering and can therefore, in their relationship with God, process it and live through it with hope, understanding and absolute trust.
John 16:33 'Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I (Christ) have overcome the world.'
God created the universe and humans on earth with a purpose; for Him to love us and for us to love Him. Love, the ultimate purpose for creation. God gave us a free will to choose. Love can only be true if it is freely chosen. He totally respects our free will. He created us to freely chose to love Him. Not to choose God's love is to reject Him, to reject what is perfect goodness. What is not good is evil. Evil lies at the root of suffering, the natural consequence of evil. He, however, is in our suffering, and gives profound meaning to suffering and a way to find the God that created us for love, a love hard to describe to anyone who has not experienced it. But a love that will delight the human heart into eternity.
Where there has been pain, there have been people who have sought after Him, where there has been excessive prosperity, there have been those who clenched their fists at Him.