Worldwide Suffering is a Sin Problem, not a God Problem
Recently I was in a discussion with some men about suffering in the world and God’s role in that suffering. Those of us who claim to know God through Jesus Christ and to love and serve Him will inevitably be posed with the question, “If God is love, then why does He allow suffering?” There are many different types of suffering. Some suffering is actually brought on by God. 1 Peter 5:19 says, “Therefore, let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” God often allows suffering in the lives of His children for His glory…that’s not always an easy one to swallow but if we trust God as loving and gracious and merciful, we can accept the suffering. There is also suffering associated with sickness and disease. Though we know that all sickness and disease on this earth are a product of the fall of man, specific instances of disease may have nothing to do with sin at all. An individual’s cancer or genetic disease almost always has absolutely nothing to do with their sin. Exceptions to this would be lung cancer from smoking, cirrhosis of the liver from excessive drinking, etc… In John 9:1-3, Jesus was asked if a man was born blind because of his own sin or the sins of his parents. Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” Jesus said that this man’s blindness was for the glory of God. In this case, Jesus healed this man and received glory for it.
But the particular type of suffering I’m talking about is the kind of suffering we often see involving food shortages and violence of man vs. man. Is this kind of suffering “God’s problem”? Is it really fair to blame God for this kind of suffering? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s rational to blame God for any kind of food shortage; nor is it fair or rational to blame God for ethnic cleansing or other types of horrible violence. Those problems in our world are sin problems, not God problems. Let’s take hunger as an example. In parts of the world where hunger is horrific, the issue is not the lack of food. The issue is that men who are in leadership will not allow food to be distributed. They use food as a means to expand their power. The leaders of those countries are not starving at all. Imagine what would happen if God supernaturally provided a bowl of food each day for starving people in a remote African country. That would be a miracle. But here’s what I think would happen. Political and military leaders would soon figure out a way to confiscate that daily food provision from the people for their own gain and to keep their power. I believe those leaders would steal the food that God miraculously provided, in the same way that they prohibit food now from being distributed to those in need. I guess what I’m saying here is that worldwide suffering could only be eliminated when man stops sinning. This is not going to happen until Jesus returns and establishes His kingdom here on earth. Then, and only then, will suffering be eliminated. So, the next time someone asks you why God allows suffering in the world, see if you can help that person to see that worldwide suffering is a sin problem, not a God problem. Also, please ask God what part He has for you to help to alleviate the suffering caused by sin…It’s not God’s problem but I assure you that He cares very, very much and wants to use His children to help other children.