God created a good and perfect world. (Gen 1-2). God’s original purpose, as we see in the Garden of Eden, was for humanity to live in peace and harmony with the world and with God. Amy Orr-Ewing, in her book ‘Where Is God In All The Suffering?’, writes, ‘God, who is love, made a world in which love is possible… and this entails there being a world in which there is the possibility of choice.’ (P 25) The choice made by Adam and Eve to want to be God rather than to love and serve God (Gen 3) has had consequences throughout history which still reverberate today.
Sin is the source of suffering and we live in a world that is broken, a world where ‘the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.’ (Rom 8:22) All the natural disasters, all the illnesses, diseases and death, which plague us and cause us to ask God ‘Why?’ so many times, all the suffering that comes because of human behaviour, have come as a result of sin, and this is why only God’s solution to sin can give us any hope of an answer that will see our heartache, pain, suffering and sorrow resolved one day.
We may feel dissatisfied with God’s answers to this age-old question, but ultimately we see that God has chosen to work redemptively rather than removing all evil and suffering right now. He has chosen to bring good out of evil, to give us hope that is eternal and not limited to the world we can currently see and experience. God’s answers will never eliminate the need for personal trust and personal choice, because that is how God has made us. Any answer also will invariably involve waiting and understanding that perfection will not happen now, but that God will make all things right in eternity. Paul tells the Romans, ‘I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.’ (Rom 8:18) He tells the Corinthians, ‘our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.’ (2 Cor 4:17) God tells us that He is preparing us for wholeness, completeness and perfection in Him, for a time when every tear will be wiped away, a time when there is no more death or mourning or suffering or sorrow or pain. (Rev 21:4) That is the hope we have to sustain us now and to help us gain strength to live with faith in a broken, suffering world.