Why is there Suffering in the World?
I have a newspaper clipping from the Tampa Tribune of August 1985 entitled, Religion Trends, that asks, "What question would you ask God if you could talk to him?" That's a pretty good question! The article continues, "That's what researchers asked Americans in a survey for the Christian Broadcasting Network that was aimed at exploring the stumbling blocks to belief in God."
In the next few articles, we will examine the "10 top responses" of that survey and try to give a Bible answer for each. The first question was: 1) “Why is there suffering in the world?”
The Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1) and at the end of all creation, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). That included God’s creation of man (Genesis 1:26-27).
However, man sinned against God and suffering entered the world. The first sin that man committed was eating of the forbidden fruit of which God had said, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17). When Adam and Eve both ate of the forbidden fruit, the first sign of suffering and pain entered the world, "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked: and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons" (Genesis 3:7, emp LS).
The second sign of suffering was, "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden" (Genesis 3:8, emp LS).
The third sign soon followed when Adam said, "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid‚ because I was naked; and I hid myself" (Genesis 3:10, emp LS).
When sin entered the world, suffering came with it. The serpent was cursed (caused to suffer) for tempting Eve (Genesis 3:14-15); Eve was now to bear children in sorrow and suffering (Genesis 3:16); and Adam would have to suffer the curse of hard work (Genesis 3:17-19). Just as God had said, "for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die", Adam died (Genesis 5:3-5). We now see that sin is what brought suffering and death upon man.
Today there is still suffering, pain, and death because sin is still in the world. And because of sin, "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
Let's all thank God that, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).