Q: Why do good people suffer?
Why all the suffering in the world? Three big questions here. One is - Why me? What have I done to deserve this?
Our pastor is a wonderful, kind, faithful man, who has spent his whole life serving God. Recently his lovely wife got Alzheimer's, and died a slow, lingering death before his eyes. Where's the justice in that? What was God thinking of? She was a good woman!
When terrible things happen, your Christian friends are not always helpful.
"Oh well, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away" doesn't help much, does it? Or "Ah, the Lord sent this to teach you something". Or "Well, it's probably your lack of faith". In the Bible, Job didn't find these helpful either.
A Jewish Rabbi wrote a book called "When bad things happen to good people". It's beautifully written and moving, but his final answer seems to be that you can't expect God to do EVERYTHING - He's so busy.
Doesn't help much either.
Let's approach the question from two angles - first commonsense, and then the Bible.
First, a question. Are you FREE to pay your income tax? Do you have free will?
Imagine a "just" world. Only unbelievers get sick, 'cos believers just go to church and pray for healing and they're fine. Only evil people die in car crashes - the good pray, and God spares them. Only materialists' children are born deformed - God sends his worshippers perfect babies. That's fair, right?
But would anyone in that world have free will - freedom to believe and follow God, or to refuse? ... It would be like income tax, wouldn't it - you CAN refuse, but you sure will be in trouble! So that "just" world would be populated by slaves: do what your Master says, or be punished.
Maybe that's not what God wanted to create? Maybe free will MUST allow injustice? The Bible adds an extra truth - a very unfashionable one but still true.
The world is not only fallen and evil - the evil in the world is organized! It has purpose, intelligence, deviousness. It works against us, trying to bring us down and separate us from God. The Bible calls it a person, the "Enemy" or "Opponent" ('Satan' in Greek/Hebrew). Peter says at one point "Your enemy the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour".
You may not like to think of the Devil as a man (he certainly isn't), and we don't really think about spiritual Beings much these days. But
the Bible is quite clear. There is not just "residual chaos" in the world. There is active Evil, dogging us and tripping us up. We are in a war zone!
So yes, the Devil certainly attacks good people - perhaps more than anyone else. Discrediting the churches is an important part of his work. Ever notice how intensely the media report ANY sins by evangelists or priests?
Remember all those hymns about "Soldiers of Christ" and "Fight the good fight"? Our fathers knew all about this. It's not the Lord that taketh away - we're in a war zone! We are soldiers in a battle against evil, and yes there will be casualties. God loves us, and hates the suffering like we do. But He doesn't GIVE your son alcoholism, or SEND your grandson to be born deaf or blind. The Prince of this world does that.
But be of good cheer - the battle will be won! Peter says "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials." And the Bible tells us one more thing. Paul says "And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him". You suffer a bit now, but this is not to be compared with the amazing good things to come. And God will actually use the bad things now to make
good results for you in the future.
This is not just "pie in the sky". Look back at your own life, and you can actually see God working out things for good. Remember how upset you got at disasters in the past, when your desperate prayers just weren't answered like you wanted? And see what's happened since?
So Christianity does have an explanation for the injustice in the world. What if there's no God, no Creator, the world is a cosmic accident? Well, then there's no explanation at all. It's all random - why shouldn't bad things happen to good people? Which fits the facts better?
The GodOrNot Team.
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Why do good people suffer?
Q: Why do good people suffer?
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