Suffering & The Existence of God

Suffering & The Existence of God

Suffering of any sort is never a welcome component to our lives. Whether it be somewhat minor (an inopportune parking ticket) or something that feels overwhelming (a medical diagnosis) all suffering has the unique ability to cloud our understanding of both life and God. Few things cause us to question God’s care for us and perhaps even his presence in our lives like suffering does. And yet one of the beautiful sides of suffering is that all suffering reminds us that God exists.

 

Now this at first feels like an odd statement. In fact, many philosophers will argue the exact opposite, that human suffering is proof, or at the very least a convincing argument, for the absence of God. With so much injustice and suffering in our world, surely a loving God cannot exist.

 

Sadly this is often the approach many Christians have to suffering. Although we may not go so far as to renounce the existence of God, we become tempted to believe he is not present in our lives, that he is cold and distant, that he doesn’t care, even that he is uninvolved in the affairs of man.

 

But let us step back for a moment and think about suffering. What causes suffering? Suffering stems from the feeling that things are not how they ought to be. We know the things in our life are not adding up the way we think they should. We know intrinsically that cancer is abnormal. We know within ourselves that divorce and broken families should not be so. We know that the death of loved ones is not how things should be.

 

All suffering, shows us that the things in this world, the things in our lives, are not what they ought to be. Which leads us to the necessary confession thatthere must be a way things ought to be. And indeed there is.

 

Romans 8:20-23

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

 

Creation is groaning. It is not what it ought to be. We ourselves groan inwardly as we strive to live life in this broken, fallen, imperfect world. You see, the world is not how it is supposed to be. It is out of alignment. Which means, that at one time it was perfectly aligned with God.

 

Suffering does not disprove the existence of a loving God, in fact just the opposite. Suffering shows us that there is a God who knows best, who is loving and kind, and knows just the way things ought to be. Suffering reminds us that things are not what they should be. And suffering gives us the hope that one day things will be back to the way they ought to be.

 

Suffering shows us that the world is broken. The world can only be broken if there is a way for the world to also be whole. Atheism cannot provide this. What is suffering according to the atheist but simply back luck? There is no hope in suffering. In fact it seems unfair to call anything suffering if there is no God and no standard for what is good in life.

 

Only if there is a perfect God who sets the standard can there be suffering. Only if there is a way that things are supposed to work can we validate our suffering as wrong.

 

All this leads to hope. The hope is found in that one day all things will again be aligned with God. That one day all the crooked paths will be made straight, the valley’s made high and the mountains made low. Romans tells us there is freedom from this bondage. And one day, we will see a new heavens and a new earth, and the One seated on His throne will proclaim: “Behold I am making all things new.”

 

Suffering in this world is temporarily. And it is a painful, yet beautiful reminder that one day all will be made right and suffering will be swallowed up forever by our God.