We often get objections from atheists who say that suffering disproves God. They say that God cannot exist because there is pain and suffering in the world. Actually, the opposite is true. Suffering makes more sense under the Christian concept of reality. Therefore, suffering does not disprove God.
For atheists to make the moral judgment that suffering is bad, they are deciding what is good and bad while at the same time saying that in reality, there is no ultimate good or bad. The atheist is only saying that he does not like things that he has determined are “bad.” Since suffering is bad, suffering disproves God.
People, in general, seem to assume that if there is a God, then His purpose is to make us happy as if God is our servant. On the contrary, Christians believe that the primary purpose of life is not happiness but knowing God. Human suffering may not make us happy, but it may very well give us a deeper knowledge of God and His love.
In times and places where the hardships have been the greatest, faith in God and Christianity have grown the most. Also, we have to realize that humans are in rebellion against God and His purpose. As long as people are in rebellion against God, there will be evil in the world, and we will all suffer as a consequence.
If God is not limited by our time dimension, then His purpose for us will not be limited to this present world and the life we are living. As someone said, we are in the cramped entrance foyer opening into the Great Hall of Eternity. If there is a God, as I believe there is, to know Him is the greatest of all goods. Any suffering in this life cannot compare with the good that God has in store for us.
While the atheist says that suffering disproves God, Christians can face the problems of life and say, “God is good all the time!” Perhaps there is no “earthly” reason for the catastrophes we face. But perhaps there is a “heavenly” reason that we are not yet equipped to see. As John Clayton has often said, “For the atheist, this life is the best he will ever experience. For the Christian, this life is the worst we will ever have to endure.”
— Roland Earnst © 2021
We have a website dealing with pain and suffering – www.whypain.org.