I was golfing with a friend of mine on Friday. He works in an ICU unit of a local hospital. After the second hole he asked, 'How can there be a God, with all the suffering in this world?'
Great question. I loved that he asked it.
I offered him a couple of theological theories in response. He is too polite to say so, but I could tell, as we stepped onto the third tee box, that he wasn't buying it.
As I have thought further about his question, it occurred to me that if Darwin was right and we are here, not be design, but by accident, the question, 'Why is there so much suffering in the world?' would probably not occur to us.
After all, if the chief end of life is to survive and reproduce, then suffering (and the evil and and injustice that often causes it) not only wouldn't bother us. It would be cause for celebration: One less tribe or gene pool to compete with.
Here's the irony: It is precisely because there is a God and that this God is incredibly good, that the suffering of others bothers us enough to question the existence of the God from whom we borrow our disdain for suffering.
Let me repeat that: It is precisely because there is a God and that this God is incredibly good, that the suffering of others bothers us enough to question the existence of the God from whom we borrow our disdain for suffering.
Suffering bothers us because it bothers the One in whose image we are made. It's not the way things are supposed to be and deep down we know it.
Had my friend been golfing with St Augustine, he probably would have been treated to this reply: 'Because if there were no God, or if that God were not good, that question would never occur to you.'
“Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956