Can God and suffering co-exist?

It can seem illogical for a loving and all-powerful God to permit so much suffering in the world. Some will renounce the existence of God altogether based on this thought; while others will not particularly renounce God, but will hate him for it. As William Lane Craig writes in his book “On Guard,” there are reasons for the co-existence of an all-loving God and suffering—though some reasons can only be known to God.

To those who disbelieve because of suffering, Craig writes that for most people, “suffering is not really an intellectual problem but an emotional problem” (On Guard, 169). It seems, as Craig writes, that the only viable solution to the problem of suffering for those who disbelieve based on emotion is God himself. When all looks hopeless, God is our refuge and strength. Ironic yet typical that our only hope is the one that people reject the most.

An intellectual argument for a disbelief in God due to suffering does not hold up. If one were to base their intellectual disbelief solely on suffering, they may have an argument; but there are so many other intellectual reasons that support the existence of God, that the problem of suffering goes by the wayside.

But for those who are open to the existence of God, yet hate him because he would permit such suffering, Craig writes that God wanted to create a world in which humans have free will; and it is logically impossible for God to force someone act a certain way freely. So humans have a choice in the suffering we inflict on each other. But when natural disasters occur, there is no answer which humans can provide given our limited scope of knowledge. Again, the answer to suffering is not to hate God, but to turn to him in the midst of a world gone awry and see what He can do.

One thought on “Can God and suffering co-exist?

  1. Nathan Sanders

    Thanks for the insights. We have the opportunity to bring compassion into the lives of those who suffer, which is so much better than trying to provide answers.


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