This is one of the most asked question we urgently want answered, next to “Where is the bathroom” anyway. Let us briefly look at this question. First, it assumes God is loving. Next it assumes God allows suffering. Finally, it assumes there is an underlying reason. Sounds like I am about the say God isn’t loving and also causes suffering without reason doesn’t it?
Hardly. I will attempt to show you how I understand and view the question:
- God allows suffering because He is loving
- He is loving because suffering exists
We cannot understand love and compassion without suffering. It is through suffering we empathize with other people. We too have stubbed our toes and wince in remembrance when we see someone do the same. We lose loved ones. We get sick. We die. These commonalities form the foundation of our love.
If we lived forever and never felt pain, we couldn’t understand or experience love. We would be unable to interact with anyone or anything. That interaction would cause suffering. Only a self sufficient being can never experience suffering. Self sufficiency means they do not and cannot interact with anything outside themselves. As soon as such a being does, it would experience a distinction of itself and the other. That distinction will cause suffering.
Wait, so you mean God isn’t self sufficient? Yes. Exactly. If He was, He might as well not exist because He wouldn’t be able to interact with us or create anything. He wouldn’t be capable of love.
Since God is interactive and loving, God is capable of suffering. Yes, I think there is suffering in heaven. And it is a beautiful thing! God suffers just like we do, perhaps even more than we are capable of fathoming. If God does condemn people to eternity in hell, I am sure it grieves Him deeply. It would be akin to the death of a son or daughter..and killing them with your own hand while they beg for their life.
That suffering allows Him to love and understand us. Godly suffering creates Godly love. God allows suffering because it is the only way to experience love and develop compassion.
Christians can look to Jesus as the example of God’s suffering (for those who believe in the Trinity doctrine this is especially salient). Jesus was only capable of loving the downtrodden and beaten because He too was downtrodden and beaten. He knew hunger and illness so He wanted to ease it in others. Buddha is another figure that understood suffering and love are inseparable. Gandi is yet another.
So why does God allow suffering? How is it fair that good people die? It isn’t.
God lives within each of us: He suffers with us. He suffers deeper than us. Why doesn’t He stop it? Because each suffering people endure expands compassion and love. Look at natural disasters. Certainly a lot of people suffer, but even more people express and grow in compassion. The people suffering are touched by that compassion in ways they wouldn’t experience otherwise.
God doesn’t cause or allow suffering. It simply is. It is just the fabric of reality. To exist, even on the heavenly plane, is to suffer. God will wipe away every tear, but we will still cry.
God allows suffering because He too suffers. It is the only way He (and us) can love. And love is the supreme suffering.