“… Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?…” Job 2:10
The Very Revd Richard Humphrey (Dean of St David’s Cathedral) shares his thoughts on the questions of Why is there suffering? And, if there is a God who is supposed to be loving and all-powerful, then why does He allow suffering?
Yancey handles this well in his two books, ‘Where is God when it hurts?’ and ‘Disappointment with God.’
Without wanting to go into a philosophical issue of causality, free will etc, I will go for my emotional response.
The very fact that we respond to suffering the way we do says something. When we experience grief it is a real experience and that this matters.
But if there is no God then this feeling is only an illusion and it does not matter as we are only a random collection of atoms and accidents. The grief I feel is not real, it is only a chemical reaction. But the problem is we know it is real we may not be able to prove it but we know, and this sense of things not being as they should be only makes sense if there is a God who has determined what is right and wrong. I do not have enough faith to go against this evidence.
The book of Job then calls on us to trust God in the moral sphere as we trust him in the creative sphere, to use David Clines remarkable phrase “innocent suffering is a hippopotamus.” Just as we don’t understand a hippo, what it is for, we should trust God.
Why, ultimately because he entered into that suffering. And triumphed over it. Thus whilst creation groans it will be redeemed.
Ecclesiastes would add that as humans we simply can’t see things from God’s perspective so it is all ‘hebel’ (vanity), mist, ungraspable.
It’s not much of an answer, but I think it is worth saying that I am a Christian not because I understand suffering, but because of Jesus and in him I have the best hope of an answer.