The ultimate question is why God doesn’t interfere more with our sufferings if He really cared. Suffering in our world is obvious. How can we possibly justify so much suffering in this world while still believing in the goodness of God? We need to understand our beliefs, since we already make assumptions about God’ role in suffering that help or hinder during difficult times.
Suffering can be viewed as a result of personal or natural evil. A great deal of suffering is either self-inflicted or inflicted upon us by others because of immoral choices. Abuse, addiction, and adultery are decisions that cause harm personally and relationally. Natural evil such as disasters of nature, diseases, or accidents that lead to so much suffering cannot always be traced to a human’s freedom to inflict pain upon themselves or others. Suffering is either deserved or undeserved. We all understand deserved suffering. What is God’s role in undeserved suffering resulting from personal or natural evil? What could possibly be God’s reasons for not intervening miraculously more than He does?
The Bible never says that since God is perfect and we aren’t perfect that all of suffering is deserved. God never says because of His righteousness and our unrighteousness that we just need to shut up and accept whatever suffering we get. Also, where in the Bible is it found that God has hand-picked all to suffer to give Him glory? Isn’t there a better way to get glory? God obviously doesn’t react to suffering, inevitable in a free world, in the same way that we human parents do, but God is not the originator of our suffering.
God cannot create and guarantee life without death, violence, suffering, and struggle and yet there be free will necessary for genuine relationships and intimacy to exist. Let’s not lay at God’s feet the evil choices of others. Evil was only avoidable if God hadn’t created or not given humans freedom to choose. Evil is not something created but originates from the human heart and misguided desires (James 1:13-15). Human parents understand the risk of intimacy when they bring children into the world knowing they may not reciprocate their love. Isn’t it easier for the majority to worship a God who doesn’t control everything as opposed to a God who accepts no resistance?
Freedom has caused a complicated world both for us and God, but we must ask why God doesn’t intervene more if we accept that God’s risk for genuine relationships was worth it. The truth is God would have to make a total mockery out of freedom. Would we ever be totally satisfied until God stopped all abuse not some abuse, all natural disasters not some natural disasters? God could annihilate people at the first sign of evil, but don’t we give our wayward children chances to change no matter the harmed caused to themselves or others? God obviously is extremely merciful and patient. God and I are very different. I try to spare my children of any suffering because I am unwilling to consider that pain may evolve into help for others.
What possible good can come from God not interfering with our undeserved suffering? God hurts as much as human parents when their children suffer. Heavenly or earthly parents aren’t sadistic just because they don’t squash freedom to avoid suffering. Suffering can enable us to not fall in love with temporal existence and love what the world offers. I benefit more from my prayers not answered than being answered. Also, suffering enables us to influence others in ways our prosperous times don’t. Are we influenced more by how people handle miracles or trust God in difficult circumstances? If God stopped all suffering, whether from personal or natural evil, the world wouldn’t necessarily be better off. Miracles turn heads but Jesus’ suffering turned the hearts of billions of followers. God will work to bring good from what was intended for evil. Our demands for an all-powerful, invulnerable God comes at the expense of trusting God know best how to run the universe and change as many lives as possible through their own volition.
Traditional, legal views of the Cross suggest God was more concerned with our guilt than restoring a personal relationship. Is the Cross really about God’s wrath than God’s love? God didn’t need to be appeased by human sacrifice as the other OT gods. The Bible implies the Cross wasn’t to satisfy God at the expense of His Son but to satisfy a need in us at God’s expense.
The Cross visibly demonstrates the destructiveness of sin and is never without a cost. The Cross empowers us to know we can have a relationship with our Creator. We don’t have to run and hide like Eve and Adam. God sought credibility to influence us for our own good. God wished to persuade us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps to trust in God than our own wisdom. God loves us more than we can ever imagine and hopefully the Cross moves us to love others as God loves us. Rarely will anyone die for a good person, but Jesus died to convince every human being.
Human or animal sacrifice was never necessary to ultimately please God: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it…a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” (Ps 51: 16-17, i.e. Heb 10:6). Our sin causes us and other tremendous pain, but sacrifice doesn’t bring back childhood innocence robbed by an adult abuser. Sacrifice is simply a way to convey the tremendous cost of sin in our lives. God only desires repentance so there can be less destruction for the future.
God cannot create and guarantee life without death, violence, suffering, and struggle and yet there be free will necessary for genuine relationships and intimacy to exist. Suffering, deserved or undeserved, is only avoidable if God makes a total mockery out of freedom or didn’t create at all. Our demands for an all-powerful, invulnerable God comes at the expense of trusting God knows best how to run a universe and change as many lives as possible by one’s own volition.
Job wanted to know why God didn’t interfere with his undeserved suffering as God knew Job was a righteous man: “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days” (24:1)? God defended that He can still be just and caring despite allowing suffering. God hurts as much as human parents when their children suffer. What possible good can come from our undeserved suffering? Suffering enables us to not fall in love with what the world offers. Suffering enables us to reach others. Are we influenced more by how people handle miracles or trust God in difficult circumstances?
Why did Jesus die on the Cross? God is always willing to walk in our shoes. God didn’t answer Jesus’ request either to intervene with His undeserved suffering. God desires to turn as many people from evil as possible while preserving freedom. Miracles turn heads but Jesus’ suffering turned the hearts of billions of followers. God took no shortcuts. God didn’t wave a wand over this messed up world for our sake or His own. Jesus’ suffering and death hopefully convinces us to follow His wisdom for our own good. Jesus had to die from God’s perspective to not avoid suffering Himself and convince us of God’s unconditional love for us.
Traditional, legal views of the Cross suggest God is concerned more with our guilt than restoring a personal relationship. Is the Cross really about God’s wrath than God’s love? Did Jesus die for God’s sake or our sake? Do we really think God couldn’t forgive us until His Son died, but Jesus forgave others before His death? Traditional, legalistic, bloody views of the Cross don’t adequately convey God’s love reasons for the Cross.
It is difficult enough to get people to talk about spiritual matters. Believers just want others to know Life goes better with God. Sometimes, believers want to talk about spirituality because they have this paranoia that God is going to torture people in Hell. He isn’t but that is another story. If you are wicked, wicked, wicked and hate God with all your heart, you will get what is coming to you for the sake of your victims.
Isn’t one of the first things a believer feels obligated to do is help others pray sooner than later “Jesus, I accept you died for my sins [blood had to be spilled for God’s sake], and I ask for forgiveness.” God could have just verbally forgiven us, but maybe He thought something much more radical was necessary. There is a better way to convey God’s love to others so that they might understand and want to be in a relationship with Him.
Jesus encouraged people to go and sin no more for their sake and don’t forget about Him. Jesus never spoke about having to sooth God’s anger. Maybe the Cross doesn’t represent what we think. Children don’t ultimately benefit from parental love they fear; they benefit from understand how unconditionally loved they are. The Cross is really about:
- Proving how far God will go to have a relationship, not how far God will go to pay for sins
- Satisfying a need in us at God’s expense, not to satisfy some need in God at Jesus’ expense
- Liberating and persuading us to do right, not about judging as if death rids of consequences
- Demonstrating God love for us, not that God is so mad that He had to kill someone
- Changing our attitude about God, not changing God’s attitude about us
- Having a relationship with God, not about escaping Hell
- Conveying the destructiveness of sin, not that God can’t forgive us unless sacrifice happens
- Persuading us to trust in God’s ways, not in the folly of our own wisdom
God always has our best interests in mind and was willing to prove He loves us more than we can ever imagine. If someone wronged me and the only way I could satisfy my anger and forgive was to kill my child, what does that say about me as a parent? Jesus died not to change God’s attitude but our attitude toward God. The Cross was not about exacting punishment; it was about helping prevail over sin’s power in us. The Cross frees us to have a free conscience and know we can have a relationship with our Creator.
When we talk to people we don’t have to worry about them repenting on the spot, understanding the blood of Jesus, and how anger God is. Wicked people don’t want to discuss God. We simply need to know God loves us and wants to be a part of our lives. Believers want people to consider that God is bigger than them and able to provide answers if they are searching. God is like having a parent who truly loves you unconditional with no strings attached. Once you understand this, you will be inspired to follow God for your own good. God is not a representation of our earthly parents but the perfection of the human parents we have always desired.