Answers to Your Questions
Q: I’ve read in the Bible and often heard people say, “God is love,” or “God loves you,” but if that’s so, why does He allow so much suffering in the world? He’s all-powerful, right? So why doesn’t He put a stop to things like disease and poverty and war and natural disasters?
A: Nearly all of us have asked those questions at one time or another. The answer hinges on two basic truths: First, most suffering is not due to so-called natural causes. In other words, it’s not according to the way God intended for things to work; it’s not His doing. It’s man’s doing. Second, He has given us freedom of choice, and this plays a big part in His plan for us. He didn’t create us as robots, but with decision-making abilities and the need to exercise them. He put us here to make choices between right and wrong, good and evil.
So when it comes right down to it, most suffering is the result of people’s choices. Sometimes people deliberately inflict suffering on others, and sometimes the suffering is a byproduct of selfish choices or indifference—choosing not to make choices that could avoid or alleviate the suffering. But either way, people are to blame. God doesn’t approve of choices that harm others or us, but if He were to step in every time we made a bad choice, He’d have to put an end to freedom of choice altogether.
Why do people make choices that hurt others?—Because they put themselves first and choose their own ways over God and His loving ways. God has given each of us a conscience—an inborn sense of right and wrong. In the Bible He also gives us the solution to suffering and all the other ills we bring upon ourselves. It’s a solution that’s so simple it can be summed up in one word: love. “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10). God tries to guide us into doing what’s loving and right, but He won’t force us.
Now let’s take a closer look at that question, starting with war. Wars are the ultimate manifestation of man’s selfishness, greed, pride, and competitive spirit. The Bible puts it this way: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1-2 KJV). God hates war, but again, to put an end to war He would have to put an end to freedom of choice.
And what about hunger and poverty? God did not create this inequality in the world’s wealth or standard of living. He has provided more than enough food and other natural resources so that no one needs to go hungry or be deprived of other basic needs. The world can produce enough food to feed its expanding population. While some famines are caused by drought or other natural disasters, most starvation today could be avoided were it not for man’s selfishness and inhumanity. War, embargoes, government corruption, and economic oppression are all to blame. While innocent children starve, some rich nations destroy millions of tons of food in order to keep prices artificially high.
Then there is the health question. If God is so righteous, why does He allow sickness? Much of the suffering brought about by sickness is also man-made. We disobey God’s health rules and eat ourselves sick on processed junk food made from genetically altered ingredients and laced with chemical preservatives. We also voluntarily make ourselves sick by smoking, drinking in excess, and taking prescription and illegal drugs that cause cancer and heart disease or harm our minds and bodies in other ways. The stress and rush of our unnatural modern lifestyle also contributes to many psychosomatic illnesses such as severe headaches, stomach ulcers, and heart trouble.
Possibly the biggest question of all is why God allows so many innocent people to be killed by natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc., over which man has little or no control. How you interpret these events depends on whether you believe in a loving, righteous God and an afterlife or not. If there were no afterlife, then natural disasters are a travesty against justice. But to those who have faith in God and implicit confidence in His love and mercy and righteousness and justice, as well as belief in a better life after this one, there is an answer: God, in His mercy, sometimes sees fit to end people’s suffering once and for all by taking them out of this world to the far better one He has waiting for all those who love Him, where all wrongs will be made right and people will be rewarded according to their works, whether they be good or evil.
It’s also reassuring to know that it won’t always be like this. The day is coming when Jesus Christ will return to put an end to the senseless suffering man inflicts on his fellow man. Then and only then, under the all-powerful rule and reign of Christ and God’s children, will there be peace and plenty for all, with no more suffering, no more hunger, no more starvation, no more poor, and no more war!
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