If God exists, why is there suffering?

Sharon Dirckx, OCCA



Why is there so much suffering in life? Every day, we are inundated with news of wars, knife crime, bullying, traffic accidents, deadly diseases and the list goes on and on. Our very natural response is to ask, ‘Why?’ ‘Why do these things happen?’ And if God exists, why would he let them happen?

But the question of suffering is also very REAL to us all. We have all encountered suffering one way or another. We might be facing illness, financial pressure, depression, relationship breakdown or be caring for an ageing parent.

Whatever the particular struggle we face, the question of suffering is one of the hardest of all and one of the biggest barriers to faith in God. Some of us may even have written God off because of the things we have been through. If God existed, He surely would not have let THAT happen.

There are no easy answers to this question. But here’s the thing. If you have ever found yourself asking ‘Why?’, to whom are you addressing the question? You see, if God doesn’t exist, is there really anyone to ask in an ultimate sense? Surely, this is just the way the world IS. Accidents happen, molecules make mistakes leading to diseases, and biology drives human behaviour.

The problem with this view is that it doesn’t really help us make sense of the grittiness of life. We get ANGRY at suffering. But where does that come from if this is just the way the world is?

The Christian faith makes sense of the rawness we feel in the face of suffering because it says there is something WRONG with the world. Things are not as they should be. We live in a world in which good and evil are at play on the world stage and in every human being. God is good but evil is also real and has influence in the world for now. So, at first glance it seems that suffering gives us good reason to rule out God. But actually, the opposite is true. It is only IF God exists that our outrage at suffering finds a home.

Could it be that we ask ‘Why?’ because God is real?