I am truly struggling in my faith because of all the suffering in the world.
I am truly struggling with my Christian faith to the point that I am not sure about anything anymore. I was taught that “God is Love” and he created man NOT to sin, but told Adam and Eve there was ONE thing in the entire Garden of Eden that they could not touch, and we all know what happened from there… Ok, here is my issue. With all of the HORRIFIC things that have happened in history, the mind blowing amount of human suffering, (the insurmountable suffering of innocent children from the beginning of time, the holocaust, all the wars, the list just goes on and on.), how are we supposed to love a God that could turn his back (because He cannot look upon sin) and let such indescribable atrocities happen? Yes, I know we were given free will and God will not intervene, but how can God and Jesus know and see these horrific events unfolding before them and do nothing? I know this is a very open question, but I have studied the holocaust, the destruction of Jerusalem, all the wars and the evils of mankind and the unspeakable amount of human suffering of the world since the beginning of time and I simply cannot come to terms with how we are supposed to simply “ignore” these things and blindly love a God that could let these things happen.
Again, I am fully aware we were given free will, but innocent children who have suffered at the hands of man throughout history were not given any protection or choice. I thought “Jesus loves the little children”… Can you PLEASE explain how we are supposed to be a Christian and have complete blind faith without questioning these things? I, personally am at a total loss and am truly struggling with my Christianity.
Thank you for any help you can offer.
I fully understand that the extent of suffering and evil in the world is difficult to accept, given that God is described in the Bible as a God of love. Yet, as I see him, God has all of his qualities immensely. God’s love is immense—it is unbounded and infinite. But we must remember that his holiness is equally immense and unchanging, as is his justice. We cannot have God’s love without his holiness and his justice. His justice demands payment, and death is the payment. His holiness demands that we come to him cleansed of our sins. We have the necessity of God’s justice, but God’s love demands that he have an intimate relationship with us. These two may at first glance appear to be in contradiction, yet they are not. God’s holiness no more disproves his love than his justice disproves his love. The fact that he punishes the wicked does not mean that he does not love them (even if it feels this way sometimes!).
Think of the role of a parent. You seem to be feeling that God is ignoring the evil and the suffering—that he is turning his back on us and no longer loving us. This is not true (although it may feel that way). Parents love their children. Their deepest desire is that their children experience fulfillment and happiness. They deeply long for their children to love them, but there is no guarantee. This is the nature of a universe in which we have choice. Our love for our children does not mean that it is our job to remove the consequences for their bad choices. As our Father, God does not always intervene to force us to stop doing evil. He loves us too much to steal this, one of his greatest gifts of live, which is our freedom of will.
And make no mistake about it, God has given us choice. He allows us to decide if we will worship him and obey him and love him. We are not forced. Love cannot be forced, as any parent knows. Do children sometimes bring down great disasters and suffering, despite all the love of the parents? You know that this happens. Does the fact that the children suffer terrible consequences of their behavior mean that the parents did not love the child? You know the answer to this question as well. Ideally, we love our children unconditionally. We certainly do not turn our backs on them. This is how God is. He allows is to rebel, to sin, and to suffer the consequences for that sin. He does not stop us from rebelling, and he does not unconditionally remove the consequences for our sin. Yet he does offer forgiveness, as you know, and he never stops loving us.
Now, despite the intellectual response to the question, there remains the emotions attached to the terrible things that God allows to happen because of his love and his decision to give us choice. There is the holocaust and any number of other unspeakable things that humans do to other humans. Even if we understand intellectually that this is not God turning his back on us—that it is actually us turning our back on him, the emotion remains. Emotionally, seeing the actions of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodian and the actions of the Myanmar government against the Ruhinga there just this past month causes us to feel great sadness and revulsion. You can assume that God feels the same, but only more strongly. Why, then, does God not intervene and force people to stop acting sinfully? The answer is the same as mentioned above. Either God gives us a choice or he does not. Well, he does. He truly lets us decide if we will obey him. Jesus loves the little children, but Bashar al-Assad (the Syrian president) does not. If my child commits horrible crimes, it does not prove that I do not love my child. You know this intellectually, but you are having trouble accepting the implications emotionally, and I cannot blame you at all. By the way, I am convinced that the young, innocent child who is killed will be with God for eternity.
We do not need to agree with God, but we do need to trust him. This can be hard. It has clearly been hard for you. Faith involves things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1) which includes that we cannot see the why of God allowing little children to die of diseases. However, I have to say that I disagree if you say that this faith is blind. Our faith is based on evidence. It is not blind. The fact that we exist at all is evidence of God’s love. The fact that we have the ability to give and to receive love is evidence of God’s love. The fact that the Bible is inspired by God (as shown from fulfilled prophecy, historical reliability, scientific accuracy and much more), is evidence that God loves us. Also, I am sure that God has already worked in your life, which is also evidence of his love. You have many reasons to believe that “God is love.” Do you also have reasons to doubt this love? I would say yes. Given the atrocities that happen in this world, there is some reason to doubt his love, but it is real nevertheless. You do not need to have blind faith, but you do need to have faith that your Creator, who came to the earth and died on a cross so that you could have access to God, is a God of love, despite some of the terrible things he allows us to do to each other. This does take faith and I pray that you will find that faith so that you can serve the God who created you and gave you life.
I hope this helps.