Can God Stop All Suffering?
Over the past few weeks, the Coronavirus pandemic has caused, among other things, worry over job situations, stress of a small business’ viability, and concern for older loved ones locked down in their rooms at care facilities, not to mention fear of self or loved ones fatally succumbing to the virus. Because of this, many suffer.
And because of this, historically, many question God’s role as an all-loving God. It is a question that has been asked for centuries. Why does God allow suffering?
To better answer this question, another question should be asked first. Can’t God step in and create a world where suffering does not exist? First of all, He did. But the Fall of Man happened and changed the course of history. Can God stop suffering now? Answer: Not without affecting our ability to freely make choices.
Wait a minute! God can do anything!
Many may have heard that God can do anything! He makes the impossible possible! This, however, is not accurate. Can He create the universe? Absolutely. Can He heal the sick? Yes. Can He rise again from physical death? Yes. Can he suspend the laws of nature to part the Red Sea? You bet. However, God can do only things that are logically possible. For example, God cannot create a married bachelor or a square circle or a one-ended stick. These are things that are logically incoherent. So when dealing with a free-minded, free-feeling people in a fallen world, the stoppage of all suffering is akin to a one-ended stick.
Let me explain: If God stopped all murders, all disasters, diseases, and physical infirmities, there would still exist poverty, racism, traffic jams, and stubbed toes. Suffering would still exist in every next less than pleasurable life experience. On and on, these things could divinely be eliminated only to be replaced by the next benign, but ultimately horrible ordeal.
But this is not to say that this is a hopeless situation. That suffering will never cease. The Resurrection of Jesus has ended all suffering for His disciples. This is a promise to be realized upon His return to judge the living and the dead and the creation of a new heaven and new Earth. Romans 8:20-25 tells us:
“20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[a] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
See also Revelation 21: 1-4:
21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
How Do We Answer The Sufferer?
What should we say to the sufferer who wants to know why God won’t fix something or cure a loved one or alleviate some sort of pain? I recommend paraphrasing an answer from Pastor and author Tim Keller:
“I don’t know why God doesn’t end your suffering. But I know it’s not because He doesn’t love you. After all, He sent His only son to die for you.”
Further Recommended Reading:
Jones, Clay. “Why Does God Allow Evil: Compelling Answers for Life’s Toughest Questions”. 2017.
Carson, D. A. “How Long, O Lord”. 2006.