I have a Twitter account that I love posting scripture on, as well as motivational thoughts and sayings. There have been many different occasions where I have been questioned about my posts, though. Honestly, I love being questioned, if anything it helps in my growth as well as the one asking. However, there has been this one question that I have been asked on three different occasions. All of which have been asked by atheists and those questioning their faith.
“Why does God let all of these innocent people suffer and then die?”
This question has been asked under different circumstances. The prominent circumstance being when I talk about God’s love and Him loving His people. “If God loves, why does He let the innocent suffer and then die? I imagine that it has only been asked because those who have asked the question have lost a loved one. I can share in that, as death sadly is a part of this life. A lot of us have lost loved ones and will one day die as well. My sister was diagnosed with cancer before her death, and my grandma suffered before her death. One thing that a lot of people focus on when it comes to suffering and death, is “Why does God let it happen.” The simple answer? We cannot comprehend the vast knowledge that God has. But here is what gives me comfort:
In the beginning, Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden. There were two trees’ in the middle of the garden. One tree was the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The other tree was the tree of life. Now, Satan (who comes to steal, kill, and destroy) came and enticed Eve to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree. She decided to eat, even giving some to Adam. This resulted in them being cast out of the garden by God. Do you know why? I do not think it was because God was just angry at them, it was so that Adam and Eve would not be able to eat from the tree of life as well.
And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever”. – Genesis 3:22
I have always taken notice that the tree of life, to live forever, was not off-limits, not until the fall. Life in Eden must have been perfect, they were so close to God, even walking with Him in the garden. But once Adam and Eve listened to Satan… life was no longer perfect. Sin and everything wrong entered the world. Satan came and destroyed the life Adam and Eve had in the garden. He stole from them that closeness they had with God. Oh, how blessed we are that God cast Adam and Eve out! Can you imagine living eternally with sin, suffering, and being separated from God?! Eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil did kill. It killed because God does not want us to live forever in suffering, sin, torture, and separation from Him! He did not want His people to eternally live this life with what Satan brings to the table.
Then Jesus enters the picture. We tend to ask God “why?” when a loved one suffers and dies. Yet Jesus, the Son of God, also suffered in this life. He suffered so much before His death. Why? Why did Jesus have to suffer from the mocking, whippings, the crown of thorns, and slow death on a cross?
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full – John 10:10.
Jesus went through a lot. He went through everything that we have the possibility of going through, and He teaches us how we can respond in those moments. He experienced what we experience, He understands us. And you know what? He made it to where we will not only have this life of suffering, sin, and death. He opened back up the way to the garden so to speak, so that we can once again walk with God. Satan thought he won in the garden, but he did not. God saved His people by casting out Adam and Eve.
Why does God let all these innocent people suffer and then die? I do not know. I do not know why people get cancer, infants are stillborn, children get killed, people are abused, or that someone died in a car accident. But I take comfort in knowing that death saves. That those who are suffering, will not suffer forever. That once they leave this life, they can eternally walk with God, if they have turned to Him in this life. That is what Jesus did. He lived, He suffered, He died, He rose again, and He is walking by God’s side.
On a side note, I am going to be starting the book “The Problem of Pain” by C. S. Lewis. There was this opening quote displayed. I like this quote and thought it would be fitting for this post, so here it is:
The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His.George Macdonald, Unspoken Sermons, First Series