Suffering Does Not Disprove God
I had a conversation with an atheist recently who found it difficult to believe in God because of all the pain and suffering in the world. This is understandable. However, people don’t realize that suffering and bad things that happen don’t disprove God, but on the contrary, the show how much we need Him.
Here is our conversation below. I attempt to clarify some misunderstanding and misconceptions for her and show her the love of God.
Atheist: I’m an atheist, and I don’t really believe in God.
Me: Why not, if you don’t mind me asking?
Her: Mostly because there is too much suffering in the world, and I have a hard time believing that a good and loving God would cause people to suffer.
Me: Do you think perhaps that you’re blaming God for all the suffering, when He may have little or nothing to do with?
Her: What do you mean?
Me: Take an example. A man goes to a party, and he drinks a lot. His friends tell him that he’s had enough, but he continues to drink anyway. Then he almost gets in a fist fight with someone who tries to take his keys to prevent him from driving home. On the way home, he hits and kills a child. As awful as this is, I ask you, did God kill that child? Many people would blame God for this, but in reality, God had nothing to do with it. It was the man, of his own choices, who made poor decision after poor decision, who chose to keep drinking and who chose to drive drunk when all of his friends tried to talk him out of it.
Her: OK, I could see that. That makes a bit of sense when you put it that way.
Her: [thinking] But why would God allow that to happen at all, why wouldn’t He stop it?
Me: He could, but He doesn’t micromanage our every choice or intervene every second making us change our minds. Rather, He has given us freewill. He asks us to choose good, but He given us the freedom to make our own choices.
Her: [Butting in] Yes, but He could have stopped it.
Me: You’re right, and I’m not God, so I don’t know his reasoning. But what I can tell you, is that if God is going to intervene in everything forcing us to do what’s right, all in order to avoid suffering, or if He is going to tinker with every outcome that’s considered bad by someone, then he has to take away our free will. God could have chosen to make us a race of robots that obeys his every command, but then we are not capable of loving Him in return or of having a relationship with Him (or with each other) which he wants. He has given us freewill and asks us to use it for good, but unfortunately as we all know, some people abuse their free will and hurt others with it. With that being said, we should blame the man, and others, who make bad decisions, not God.
Me: Another point. I know people who have been raped or sexually abused, and they struggled with this for a long time in their relationship with God. This is a good example because these people eventually came to God, crying on their knees, and He lovingly healed them and made them new. Some speak and help others on this topic, women who struggle with the same issues, women who wouldn’t have received the help they needed if God had not brought this good out of bad.
Her: Well, I’m still struggling with this, but I can see your point.
Me: One last thing to ponder. God made the world perfect and He does not like suffering at all. It was not God, but man, who brought suffering into the world. But instead of leaving us to suffer alone, Christians believe that God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to enter into our suffering. He experienced suffering like us in every way. He even took it upon Himself on the cross in the form of our sins.
And, think about this. when Jesus (God) walked on earth, He healed everybody who came to Him from blindness, deafness, sickness, disease, sin, evil spirits, from every painful illness, and He even rose people from the dead to show He has the power over all things. Jesus took the curse of suffering and reversed the curse – to show that He never wanted this suffering in the first place, to show that it’s not from Him, and as foreshadowing for what He promises to those who follow Him. He promises eternal life without pain. In fact, Jesus assures us that the very first thing He will do when we get to heaven is wipe away every tear from our eye and take all pain from our hearts – forever. And that’s what we as Christians look forward. Moreover, we invite everyone else to this reality as well.
One thing we know is that God cares for each of us immensely. And, while He does not always intervene here on earth because of our free will, one thing I’ve learned from my own life is that He can take away our suffering if we come to Him. He can and will heal our pain, calm our storms, and make all things new … if we will let Him.