What Is God's Role in Pain and Suffering?

God has something to do with our pain and suffering. But what role does he play? Jon Tyson examines the role God plays in our suffering.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. If God does not exist to "fix our lives," why does God exist?
  2. To whom or what do you assign the blame for suffering? God, humanity, blind chance, or something else?

I think a lot of people have misconceptions about who God is. They really do think that God exists to fix their lives. There was a bloke at our church who was a seeker, and, uh, during the death of his mother, he just basically said, "If I as a finite human being would do everything within my power including medical care, love, and concern to stop my mother from dying like this, how can there be a loving God who would let this happen?" I'm not sure there is an answer to the problem. You either have to assign blame towards God, uh which to me doesn't line up with the character of Jesus, you have to, uh, assign blame completely to humans, and I think that the ways that we do interact with the planet do have some very real consequences, or you have to say, "There's no meaning behind it, period, and life is blind evolution and chance, and so why does it matter anyway?" There's never going to be a fully resolvable answer, and anybody who claims with authority that they can, I'd be a little suspicious of. You're either going to malign the character of God, assign it to complete randomness and meaninglessness, or interact with human beings. I think there's some interplay between, uh, God and human response where there's an element of mystery that we can't understand. I got a lot of comfort, um, from the scene, uh, in the gospels where one of Jesus' friends dies. And if Jesus claims to be God, what, what Jesus does with evil gives us a real clue about how God feels about it. Uh, firstly, whenever saw, Jesus saw, Jesus saw sickness, he healed it, he responded to it, he wasn't passive, he didn't say, "That's my will. Just suffer." He acted, uh, to respond to it. Uh, when his friend died, Jesus wept, and so I think that's one of the most compelling verses. Uh, Jesus makes the claim that he's the creator God. And like an artist who has a beautiful gallery filled with fine art, uh, and then a vandal breaks in and destroys it all, the artist would walk in and weep at the loss of his work. I think that's what we see with Jesus. He comes into the human story, sees the brokenness and pain of death, and his response to it is not stoicism, but he weeps and then he acts. And, uh, I found that just remarkably comforting, that even though there wasn't an, a big answer for God to fix everything immediately, there was a deep sense that he cared about it, that he was working within it. And ultimately Jesus on the cross was involved in healing human pain. He wasn't outside of it. He wasn't passive, but he actually took sin and brokenness upon himself, uh, to undo all the things that we have done.