What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!
Perhaps one of the toughest questions we Christians are asked is how a loving God can allow so much suffering. It’s just hard to reconcile without knowing Christ and trusting in His goodness. We try to explain our faith and use all sorts of analogies, but let’s face it; it can be a tough one to get around. But it’s an important question. Too often it’s the reason people decide there just is no God.
The following story is one of the best explanations of why God allows pain and suffering that I have seen:
A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: “I don’t believe that God exists.”
“Why do you say that?” asked the customer.
“Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn’t exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can’t imagine a loving a God who would allow all of these things.” The customer thought for a moment, but didn’t respond because he didn’t want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop.
Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt. The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: “You know what? Barbers do not exist.”
“How can you say that?” asked the surprised barber. “I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!”
“No!” the customer exclaimed. “Barbers don’t exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.”
“Ah, but barbers DO exist! What happens is, people do not come to me.”
“Exactly!” affirmed the customer. “That’s the point! God, too, DOES exist! What happens is people don’t go to Him and do not look for Him. That’s why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world.”
It’s important that we put the responsibility of the pain and suffering where it belongs! Rest assured, God is fully aware of the wickedness and injustice in this world. Isaiah gives us a glimpse of His exasperation in the wrath to come: “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations — a people who continually provoke me to my very face…” (Isaiah 65:2–3a). Trusting in Him, let us put our hope in the glorious future God has promised us… a future with no suffering and pain.
Think about this Bible verse the next time fear grips you:
Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create… the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth… No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat… my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them.
Suggestion for Prayer
Praise God that He is preparing a better place! Put your Hope in Him.
Jim Grassi, D. Min.