What alternative can you suggest? If God enslaved the human will, squelching wrongdoing by forcibly preventing us from indulging in our favorite sins, we’d be the first to shake our fists at him.
It would be the height of hypocrisy to dare criticize God for not always interfering when tragedy looms. Time after time we have each proved by our actions that we don’t want his love and wisdom cramping our style.
A God of love wants the whole world to operate in love, but could you force someone to love you? An involuntary act can have no moral value. It’s slavery. Where would the virtue be in any action if it were impossible not to be virtuous? All of life would become meaningless.
For different view, continue . . . OR . . . Return to Contents
We say there is no hell and set new records in suicide rates. We call Christian morality old-fashioned and suddenly it’s old-fashioned not to know the latest AIDS statistics. We fill our hospitals with bodies ravaged by promiscuity and substance abuse. Try calculating even the dollar cost of divorce, fraud, laziness, irresponsible driving, theft, vandalism, prisons, judicial system, and police. One wonders how our economy has survived this long. Incalculable misery is inevitable whenever God’s laws are regarded as oppressive restrictions rather than loving expressions of divine wisdom.
We spurn God’s laws, hurt each other, and then have the audacity to blame God for the resulting disaster. All suffering can be tracked back to human wrong-doing – not necessarily the action of anyone presently alive, but to someone’s deliberate disregard of God and his ways. (There is even a human link to natural disasters.) And why didn’t God strike that person dead before others could be hurt? Because to be fair he should do the same to you and me.
Only a maniac or an ego-maniac would dare demand justice from God. Though we are too trapped in our own mud to have a hope of seeing ourselves as we really are, if we could remove ourselves a little, we would realize we all stand guilty before a holy God. We have each added to humanity’s pain.
Many of us would go to any lengths – even to accusing our Judge of injustice – in an unconscious attempt to push the spotlight away from the recesses of a dirty conscience. If only we could smear God, narrowing the gap between his perfection and our shabby behavior, we’d feel better.
But there must be a Day of reckoning. All evil must be removed. Even the self-righteous have been demanding it for millennia, though they have no idea what they are asking. Our response before that awesome moment will determine whether we’ll be around to enjoy an evil-free environment.
The suffering of humanity’s only innocent (Jesus) blazed the way for the removal of all suffering and when he re-visits this planet he will complete his mission. But how, without unprincipled favoritism, could he eradicate all evil without destroying you and me? Only by us letting him wrench our darling sins from us, and trusting him to have taken their horrific consequences upon himself. Then we will be spared and no one can accuse God of injustice or favoritism. He has borne the penalty himself.
Another angle on tragedies: The rantings of arm-chair philosophers differ markedly from the findings of people with the deepest experience of both God and suffering. The apostle Paul, one of the most qualified persons ever to broach this subject, discovered that no tragedy could ‘separate us from the love of God.’ (Romans 8:35-39) For nearly 2,000 years this hard-won insight has been put to the test by the torment of thousands of Christian martyrs who have agonized in triumph, rejoicing in the goodness of God.
Continue OR . . . See . . . "What makes St Paul such an expert?"
Include all types of affliction, and it is no exaggeration to say that literally millions of people have suffered without it diminishing their devotion to Jesus. On the contrary, they insist it was God’s comfort, love and inspiration that empowered them to endure.
It was once claimed that by the laws of aerodynamics bumble-bees cannot fly. But people who know bumble-bees could not be hoodwinked. A scientific explanation might elude them, but they know bumble-bees fly. Similarly, people who really know God, even those who have suffered as much as is humanly possible, know what they know: God’s love is as mind-boggling as his power. Gaining insight in this matter might not be scientifically satisfying, but it is truth proven by cold reality.
‘When you know God,’ breathed a Nazi concentration camp inmate, ‘you don’t need to know why.’ The hearts of thousands leap in agreement.
He really knew God. This one-time violent opponent of Christianity was bright, but as every agnostic knows, when it comes to contacting the Almighty, intelligence helps no more than one’s bank balance. (Luke 10:21; Mark 10:15; 1 Corinthians 1:19-29) The apostle Paul’s interaction with God makes the spiritual experience of this world’s geniuses shrivel to insignificance. (Acts 9:1-24; 13:7-12; 14:8-11; 28:3-6; Romans 15:18-19; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5; 11:1; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Galatians 1:10-20; 2:1-2,6-7; Philippians 1:21; 2 Timothy 1:3)
Few people have endured such torment. He was slandered, betrayed, flogged, stoned, imprisoned and shipwrecked with devastating frequency. (1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2 Corinthians 11:23-29)
Paul’s grasp of the purest love completes his credentials as an authority on the relationship between God’s love and suffering. (1 Corinthians 13) He was unmoved by soppy emotionalism or other sham forms of love.
Though you spurn every Christian on the planet, you cannot dismiss this saint of a man. And he discovered that the reality of suffering cannot diminish the infinitude of God’s powerful love.
This enlightenment did not come cheaply to Paul, and he realized it could not be passed on by words alone. (Ephesians 3:17-19) Intense experience, prayer, and intimacy with God is a common price.
Back to Text OR Back to Contents