Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering?
Why does God allow pain and suffering? It's a difficult question—probably one of the hardest to answer. The Curiosity Collective brings together thought leaders, subject matter experts, pastors, and theologians to explore this difficult question.
Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection
- Do you think pain can be a good thing? In what ways?
- What role does free will play in pain and suffering?
Leonce: When you look at the whole story of human history, and even from the narratives of the scriptures, you see that the suffering that we see in the world is precisely what he said would be without him.
Ian: Sometimes the problem of suffering is called a problem of pain. I think that helps us to understand it, because pain is actually a good thing. It’s a good thing in the sense that it’s telling us when there is something wrong.
Leonce: Reality is, if we’re honest, the suffering in this world and the things that we see, they’re not caused by God; they’re caused by us. God is not trafficking children in the sex trade; people are. God is not sexually abusing women; people are. God is not selling drugs on the corners in downtown Atlanta where I live; people are.
Ian: The problem of suffering or pain is a reflection of the fact that we have built into our nature ways in which we correct ourselves and draw back from situations that do us harm.
Leonce: It’s not hopeless because the other side of that is Jesus saying that though this suffering is here now and is the temporary reality in which we exist, I came because there’s a future hope, a future reality, a better world that’s not only as good as the one that was supposed to be…
Ian: Suffering is an inevitable part of being in a real universe where we have freedom to be good or ill. Human evil is permitted by God because that’s the kind of universe that he’s placed us in.
Leonce: The things that we see now are subsequently tied to that very beginning unraveling; it’s like a sweater. The first people, they tugged at the thread. It didn’t just unravel their connection to the God who created everything, but it actually began to unravel the very fabric of the world that he created. Natural disasters and hurricanes and earthquakes and terminal diseases, these are all things that were never intended. When the thread was pulled and everything else began to unravel, those things began to unravel in the world as well.