This question (commonly know as the problem of evil) is the one which those who believe in God, or those who are considering if belief in God is a good idea, have to wrestle. Or at least those of us who live in the West have to wrestle with it. I’d suggest that those living in India, for example, approach the problem differently. It’s Europe’s legacy of Greek philosophy and St Augustine that means this question is so big for us – but that’s a subject for another time.
My son was asking me last night, as we lay in a tent about to go to sleep, whether God could have stopped the recent flooding in Pakistan. A good question.
Now some would say that God is allowing these things for a greater purpose or good. A recent guest speaker at CBC made this point a number of times with gusto.
Personally, I have some questions about this viewpoint. Why? Mainly because of Jesus. When Jesus encountered suffering – in particular sickness and death – he never said “God has allowed this to happen for a reason” or anything like it. (If you want to talk about John chapter 9 – then email me and we’ll move some punctuation). What did Jesus do? He healed sickness, raised the dead, drove out demons and challenged people to stop sinning – i.e. he was dealing with suffering and some of its causes.
The book of Job is often where people go when considering this question – and it is a brilliant book. Dr Gregory Boyd has written a far more detailed and thoughtful article on Job and suffering than I could – and I recommend it. He finishes up with these words:
“If we are going to blame anyone, the book of Job and the ministry of Jesus would have it be Leviathan, Behemoth, hostile cosmic waters or (what comes to the same thing) the devil. Though we can’t know the “why” of any particular instance of suffering, we can and must know that our whole environment is under siege by forces that hate God and hate all that is good. We are by our own rebellion caught in the crossfire of a cosmic war, and we suffer accordingly.”