What Is the Reason for Suffering?

Former NFL player Leonce Crump discusses mankind's desire for free will and the consequences of pain and suffering that ultimately come with it.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. Have you ever struggled with your desire to do whatever you want to do?
  2. Do you agree that God creates avenues for us to find truth about him on our own rather than imposing himself on us?

That's such a complex question, "Why there's suffering in the world." That's one I ask myself all the time, but the reality is it was never God's intention. What God wove was something beautiful, a beautiful tapestry of, uh, of creation and created order, where there was harmony between humanity and the rest of creation, and joy and harmony between God and humanity. And that's what we see in the, in the narrative in, in what Christians describe as the book of Genesis, that, that there's this beautiful harmony, this, this perfection where, where God and man walk together in the cool of the day. And that's like a prevailing question even among Christians, "What is God's will for my life?" Well, we see it. It's that God and man would walk together in joy and in harmony, but there's another part of our human nature when we ask that question that we don't really take into consideration, and that's, and that's our desire to do whatever we want to do. And that's what we see in, in, the narrative, uh, of the world's beginning, is that we have this harmony between, between humanity and this harmony between God and, and creation and, and then people choose to do what they want to do. And so really we're left with two choices then, right? Is, is— do we want God to treat us as automatons, as robots and, and intervene against our will and, and not only correct the brokenness but correct our wrongs, and in, and in correcting our wrongs, then we have to be held accountable for those wrongs. Or do we want free will? I think suffering is somewhere between that reality, the reality that God hates it, and he's broken for it, and he's hurting for it, but at the same time he doesn't want to manipulate people into loving him. He doesn't, he doesn't want to manipulate people into trusting him. He doesn't want to force people to love him, to follow him, to believe in him. Because he could do that. And so somewhere between God's ability to do anything in his desire to allow us to make choices exists the suffering that we create. It's such a strange thing to blame God for suffering, but God is not the one that dropped the first atomic bomb, and God is not the one swinging the sword during the Crusades, and God is not the one with the machine guns in Rwanda, and God is not the one waging war on children in southeast Asia through the sex-trade. That's people. And so God's options are to have robots who worship Him because he imposes upon their will. Or to create avenues for us to find truth, and in finding truth find him, and in finding him find his real heart for the world, which we see, uh, revealed again and again in the scriptures as God promises that there's a day that's coming where, where this suffering and this brokenness and this unraveling of what he wove and called, "very good," that we unraveled through our choices will be restored to better than new and that all pain and all suffering and all mourning and all tears and all crying— all those things will fade in his glory. But if he did that now by altering our will so that we would live the way that he wants us to rather than creating avenues for us to find truth and in finding truth, finding him, then, then we wouldn't be fully human because we would lack choice, and unfortunately 99% of the time unless, unless our hearts have been changed and, and, and turned toward God, our choice will always be what serves us most, no matter what it costs everyone else. And that's the reason for suffering in the world.