One of the biggest questions people who don’t believe Jesus ask is, “If God is God and all powerful, why doesn’t He just end all the suffering?” This has become the cry of those who want to argue the existence of God. It’s the reasoning people take when they just don’t want to accept there is a God who loves them unconditionally.
It is a very real, big, and honest question at its core. Why doesn’t He just end the suffering? There have been times in my life that this question has tried to creep into my thoughts.
There are two ways that I battle this question in my own mind:
The first comes from the question posed to me when my Dad was dying of ALS. My cousin, Ray, said to me, “Keith, you have two choices. You can either go through it or you can grow through it. What you decide will change everything.”
That statement has shaped my life in more ways than you or I can imagine. That moment and the choice to “grow through it” was a watershed moment in my life. Because I chose to grow through it, I learned and gained so much. Personally, I can see why that suffering was important in my growth. I was challenged to my core. I had to become reliant on God and my faith because as a person, there was so much that I couldn’t understand.
Every ounce of suffering was a lesson, an opportunity to challenge and stretch myself. It was the beginning of optimism for the future that I now have, thanks to the suffering I have experienced. I know that “God is bigger and He has a plan.” So now, through all the other “suffering” that life has thrown at me, I have chosen the same thing—to grow through it.
The second way I handle this question is finding that a position of peace is more applicable to the suffering we see. From Ebola to depression it is a result of living in a broken world. It is all a process and God has a plan to eventually end this suffering.
The hope we have in Jesus puts us in a place allowing us to see the suffering humanity faces is temporary. The real question comes down to this—are we doing anything to help bring hope through suffering?
I know it’s easier to focus on bringing the suffering to an end. In doing so, we sometimes miss the opportunity suffering brings to display Jesus and the hope that comes with Him.
As we face suffering in this temporary world, the question shouldn’t be, “Why doesn’t God just end the suffering?” Instead it should be, “How am I going to grow through this suffering? How can I bring hope to others?”
Executive Coordinator – God of Hope