Philosophy Lite: No specific answer as to why there's suffering in the world

By Raymond Smith
Feb. 17, 2012 at midnight
Updated Feb. 16, 2012 at 8:17 p.m.

Why does God allow suffering? If God is good, why is there so much suffering in the world?

This is a theological problem that men have grappled with for thousands of years. It is the main reason so many become atheists. Because of one difficult question, men ignore the scores of positive reasons that a loving God exists and has a plan for our lives.

There are things that the Bible does not cover explicitly, but God has given us a mind to think through difficulties and arrive at some enlightened answers. Many years ago when I discussed the problem with my pastor, he recommended C.S. Lewis' book, "The Problem of Pain."

He said that although the book was about as good as any in print, that I might still be dissatisfied because, while the book offers several possible ideas, there is no one specific answer.

The prime consideration seems to be that our creator has given us a free will. We don't often think about what a great gift this is, but as free moral agents we are masters of our own destiny.

This free will allows us to choose between things that are beneficial to us or things that hurt us and others. During our lifetime, by making right choices, we are to grow in knowledge and achievement. We are to make something of our lives.

Some evils are natural phenomenons such as floods, tornadoes and fire. These are common to us all; however, we have a bit of control over these by choosing where and how we live.

Accidents happen to all of us, but many times we can learn from a bad experience and grow from it. Joni Eareckson broke her back in a swimming accident several years ago.

Today, although wheelchair bound, she is an inspiration to millions through her art, her testimony of faith in God and her writings and radio broadcasts. The great preacher, Charles Spurgeon, said, "God gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction."

I am convinced that God sometimes trains people through adversity and picks them for higher service in the life beyond.

On a positive note, with poverty, illness and suffering all around us, we have an opportunity to serve others in a way that brings about healing, growth and the satisfaction of pleasing our heavenly father. Our lives can count even under trying circumstances.

Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

He has not left us destitute; he has given us hope for this life and the one to come. Hope is the anchor of the soul, and it has enabled millions to to bear up under the most trying circumstances. In the words of Ira Stanphill, "There are things about tomorrow I don't seem to understand, but I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand."

Raymond F. Smith is president of Strong Families of Victoria



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