Does God Create Suffering?
I have a good friend named Coral, a godly woman with developmental disabilities. Coral has taught me so much about faith and disability. She has faithfully volunteered with our special needs ministry for over ten years. Through the course of our friendship we have shared many meals together. Her favorite place to eat is Wendy’s. I noticed that Coral always orders her burgers plain, so one day I asked her why she never adds any condiments to her burger. She replied, “You only need to add those things if something doesn’t taste good.” She is right! Sometimes I notice my kids living out this principle. When they have to eat something they don’t enjoy, they cover it in a sea of ketchup – making it easier to swallow.
Something that can be tough to swallow is the reality that God allows suffering and disability. The truth that we address today might be more like trying to swallow an elephant in one single bite. No amount of ketchup will help it taste better or go down easier. Let’s get right to it, because there is no easy way around it.
God creates suffering.
Ugh. I’m choking already. I feel uncomfortable even typing that. I mean, that makes it difficult to want to follow and trust God. I thought God was supposed to be nice all the time?
Some people who have experienced hardship and suffering believe that God hates them. If God isn’t cruel and doesn’t hate them, the only other option is that He is completely disconnected from His creation, right?
God is not disconnected from His creation, nor does He hate His creation. So, why would God create suffering?
Let’s look at the facts.
Lamentations 3:38, “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” God comes right out and says it. Both good things and bad things come from Him. That means that, at times, He is the author of the suffering we experience.
Isaiah 45:7, “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.” I think I was a bit more okay with the word “calamities” than I am with the word “disaster.”
When I think of “disaster” I think of natural disasters and tragedy on a large scale. These are things that I don’t want to attribute to God. I don’t want to because my finite mind can’t always make sense of it. I also don’t want this to be true because I don’t want people to think that I am some crazy, sadistic, right-winged, fanatical Christian. But, if we accept that ALL scripture is true and inspired by God, we don’t get the liberty to pick and choose only the easy passages that make us feel warm and fuzzy inside.
So, why would God create suffering?
Ephesians 1:11 says, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…”
God has a plan. God is not distant or disconnected. God knows what He is doing. We don’t always get it, and there are things that we will never understand. But, if we understood everything what would be the point of faith? We must trust that God knows what He is doing even if we cannot make sense of it. The concept of God creating “disaster” and “suffering” is one of those areas for me.
If we continue to read Ephesians 1:12-14 we gain some insight into God’s ultimate plan, “…in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
There it is again. God desires our praise. God wants to be glorified above all else. In the end, as we attempt to swallow the difficult truth that God creates suffering, we must conclude that He does so to accomplish His will for us. His will is ultimately that we would praise Him and put our trust in Him. Maybe, just maybe, the only way that some of us will open our eyes to this is through disaster and suffering.
* First posted on http://irresistiblechurch.org/bad-things-happen-good-people-part-2-4/#