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Why does God allow suffering?

November 23, 2009

In all their distress he too was distressed… Isaiah 63:9

The most difficult theological question we will ever have to wrestle with is—why does God allow suffering?

I’ve read many stories of people who are disillusioned with God because he did not answer their prayers to heal a loved one, especially when their loved one was a child. Yet I wonder if they have ever thought through the implications of this expectation. If God was obligated to heal every terminal ill child that was prayed for, then every parent, all over the world, would pray for their sick child. Children would never die from disease. This then raises the question how old is a child? Any time someone pre-deceases their parents, we feel there is something wrong with the world and there is. We are still living with the effects of the fall. If God was going to reverse the effects of the fall every time a parent prayed then God would have to be constantly intervening in the world so that children, even adult children, did not die prematurely. Then there are all the tragic accidents, where children (and adult children) die simply because they were in the wrong place and the wrong time—we’d expect God to stop these events from happening too. Then there are deliberate acts of violence against children, we’d expect God to intervene to stop these, as well as all child abuse, child prostitution, child neglect…the list goes on and on. If God did all this we would be no more than puppets in the hand of God.

However God doesn’t want puppets. He gave us a free will. What an enormous price God pays for people to have choices. Enormous because God feels our pain.

by Susan Barnes
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Susan Barnes

~ writer of insightful posts about God and faith