Why Pain, Suffering, and Death?

Chapter 4 | Summary

Back to Genesis

Did God Create an Evil Being?

Result of Disobedience

Death’s Footprint

The Only Way

The light from the stars refuses to illuminate the night in my city. The rebellious moon is in hiding, and the extreme darkness takes control of the dismal town where I live, covering every corner of a house where a family mourns the death of a mother who leaves behind 11 children.

In a corner, inconsolable, the widowed man cries out asking God: “Why, Lord? Why did you take my Julia, leaving me alone to take care of these kids?”

I am no longer a child, but the question also makes me feel uneasy in my heart. If God created a perfect world, why do pain, suffering, and death exist? Years had to pass for me to understand that pain is a mystery. Even so, every time sadness knocks on the door of my heart, I continue to ask “why?”

Back to Genesis

The biblical account of Creation says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).

What happened to this world that made it “very good?” Where did evil originate? Perhaps it always existed.1

Philosophers, religious people, and thinkers have suggested the eternal existence of good and evil. Zoroastrianism mentions the cosmic battle between a good god, Ahura Mazda, and an evil god, Ahriman. Plato says that good is a supreme ideal and evil is ignorance.2 Augustine of Hippo spent a great deal of his life reflecting upon the existence of evil, until he read Plato and became convinced that “evil does not exist; it is simply the absence of good.” Aristotle considered as good everything that made humanity happy; therefore, any action that causes suffering had to be evil.

The Bible says that evil is sin. It does not explain its origin; it merely narrates how it surfaced. The writers of the Old Testament do not bother to explain evil in detail. To them, evil is an undeniable reality, sin an obvious fact. The important thing is to know how to cope with it.

Evil has no explanation. If we could explain it, we could justify it. However, nothing justifies the fact that a perfect angel, Lucifer, gave way to the evil in his heart. Why did he covet God’s position? Why did he feel unsatisfied with what he was and what he had? The prophet Ezekiel says: You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings” (Ezek. 28:14-17).

Did God Create an Evil Being?

Lucifer was not a typical angel; he was a cherub. He was in “the holy mount of God.” Cherubs belong to a special group of angels. They appear many times in the Bible on special missions. Almost always, they appear close to God’s throne. The expression “you were in the holy mount of God” expresses this idea. Another phrase from the passage that deserves attention is the following: “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.”

God did not create the devil; He created a perfect angel. But why did a perfect angel choose evil? And if he did, does it mean that evil already existed? No. The possibility of evil existed, but not evil. The perfection of Lucifer required freedom; a slave could not be perfect. In order to be free, Lucifer had to choose in such a way that the ability to choose required the possibility to follow the path of good or the way of evil. Otherwise, how could he be free?

However, the possibility of a situation does not necessarily mean it has to occur. We all have the possibility of contracting AIDS, but it does not suggest that we will suffer that disease. If we avoid the risk factors, the possibility of contracting it is practically zero. Why did Lucifer, having had the option to choose good opt for evil? The apostle Paul refers to the emergence of evil as “the secret power of lawlessness” (2 Thess. 2:7).





“You will not certainly die”

Death does not exist. Human beings are immortal.

Happiness and love in the afterlife. Contact with loved ones who have died.

“Your eyes will be opened”

Disobedience opens the door to knowledge superior to human reality.

Intelligence and the ability to analyze secret information, knowledge of the future and the afterlife.

“You will be like God”

Human beings have the capacity to become as powerful as God Himself.

Ability to perform miracles, to destroy enemies, to benefit loved ones.

“Knowing good and evil”

It is necessary to taste evil to establish solid guidelines about its nature. Only then can we have a balanced judgment to make spiritual decisions.

Freedom to enjoy all those things that produce pleasure without feelings of guilt. Love and personal satisfaction. False certainty.


Excerpt from: Disciple’s Bible, Madrid: Safeliz, 2015, p. 8.

The truth is: Lucifer, the perfect angel, rebelled against God. The book of Revelation narrates what took place. “Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him” (Rev. 12:7-9).

Expelled from heaven, Lucifer moved to the earth. The planet had just been created; it was a perfect world. Everything was “very good.” But human beings also chose the path of disobedience. God’s instructions were: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Gen. 2:16, 17).

Why did God forbid Adam and Eve from doing something? Had He not created them to be free? How can freedom exist where something is forbidden? It depends on the point of view. His divine warning was not God being arbitrary. Laws should not be absurd prohibitions, but protective fences around freedom. Traffic laws prevent gridlock and preserve safety on roads; health laws ensure proper functioning of the human body; environmental laws protect from an ecological collapse. Freedom without law turns to anarchy.

Result of Disobedience

When God warned the first human beings about the consequences of disobedience, He did not threaten them or curtail their freedom. Instead, He limited Himself to describing the catastrophic results of their disobedience.

To illustrate, let’s imagine that my grandson and I are on the rooftop of a 20-story building. I tell him, “Son, do not get close to the edge, because if you do, you may fall and die.”

Am I threatening him, or warning him about the horrific consequences of his disobedience?

Adam and Eve did not heed the divine warning. The serpent told them: “You will be like God, knowing of good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). The idea seemed fascinating. They decided to take control of their lives, and the result of their decision did not take long to appear: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid’” (Gen. 3:8-10).

Fear had not existed until that day. Humanity was unaware of the feeling of guilt. But from the moment Adam and Eve hid from God, the history of humanity has been one of constant hiding from its Creator. God calls and humanity flees and hides. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is the story of God’s search for human beings.

In the Garden of Eden, God calls Adam. How interesting! The book of Revelation ends with another call: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life’” (Rev. 22:17). Why does God insist on calling His rebellious children? Because His nature is love; God loves human beings, regardless of their behaviors. God’s love is eternal because He is eternal. “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have drawn you with unfailing kindness’” (Jer. 31:3).

Nevertheless, not even God’s love was able to free humankind from the natural consequences of its disobedience. The damnation that followed sin was not punishment from an angry God. The universe is governed by natural laws from which no one can hide.

A crystal glass dropped will shatter in pieces on the floor. That is not divine damnation; rather, it is the simple consequence of violating a law of nature. If I constantly smoke, I face the possibility of developing lung cancer. That disease would not be divine punishment, but merely the logical consequence of violating an environmental, health law.

In Adam and Eve’s case, God described what would happen to them as soon as they chose rebellion: “To the woman he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’ To Adam he said, ‘because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘you must not eat from it,’ ‘cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return’” (Gen. 3:16-19).

This was the apparent end to a perfect world that had risen from the hands of the Creator. Pain, guilt, disease, death, injustice, and violence appeared. Until then, no one had to hide from their fellow creatures. There had been no need to kill another to survive. But since that day, humanity would become the main predator on earth. Gradually, it would begin to openly violate the laws of nature, it would find pleasure in destroying the environment, and without realizing it a knife would be placed on its own throat.

Ultimately, the tragic consequences of the entrance of sin were not limited to the physical world. As of that day, humanity no longer found joy in God’s company. It needed it but, ironically, it hid from God’s presence. Humanity rejected God; it hid. How could such incoherence be understood? God is not the Author of life alone; He is its Sustainer. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).

If God is the essence of life, humanity has to be in communion with Him to be completely happy. However, sin separated humanity from the God of life3 and directed it toward death. Sin is death because there is only life in Jesus. Any experience that leads to separation from God cannot be considered life. That is hardly surviving. Indeed, it is a caricature of real life.

Death’s Footprint

When Paul said: “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), he was not simply referring to a physical death, but to humanity’s entry into a slow process of decay and death, a painful path toward damnation. In Eden, trees began to lose their leaves; flowers started to wither. Soon the first dead animals appeared. No one knew what was happening. Then Adam and Eve observed one of their sons murder his brother. Our first parents had not physically died, but they were living the sad process of emotional, spiritual, and mental degeneration. They entered the bitter experience of suffering.

Separated from the God of life, humanity has a distorted view of reality. It is unable to learn from its own experience and gradually plunges deeper into the murky waters of distress. It does not know how to distinguish pain from suffering, even good from evil; and it begins to call good evil and evil good.

Hidden among trees, Adam and Eve suffer pain in their souls. It was not simply physical discomfort, which normally provides a lesson, but that psychological torment that prevents one from seeing light at the end of the tunnel and leads to a dead end that submerges its sufferers in despair. Suffering has its origin in the way of reacting before events, not so much in reality itself, regardless of how difficult it may be. It produces in the mind that, after the entrance of sin, takes root in apprehension, prejudice, and fear.

Before the entrance of sin, humanity experienced reality. But since it lived in communion with the Fountain of life, it had a correct view of reality and reacted with balance. God gave Adam responsibilities: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Gen. 2:15). Such responsibilities were not burdens for Adam. On the contrary, he performed them with efficiency and selflessness. “Now the Lord God had formed out the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found” (Gen. 2:19, 20).

Fatigue, anxiety, and stress only emerged after the entrance of sin. With the entrance of sin, the unity between Adam and Eve began to deteriorate. They began to argue and manifest bitterness toward each other. Suffering was not born from discord itself, but from the imbalanced manner in which they both reacted to it. Imbalance does not necessarily mean anger, but rather disorder.

The Only Way

Humanity can only be an organized to the extent that it becomes like its Creator. For that reason, Paul says: “Therefore, since we have been justified though faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Upon receiving such peace in our hearts, we no longer despair when dealing with circumstances, nor do we set as a goal to make suffering disappear. We learn to live with the reality of pain with wisdom and balance, the result of the peace that reigns in our hearts. The impressive thing is that, without realizing it the pain ends because by being in Christ we face emotional struggles without fear and manage them wisely. The peace God places in our hearts liberates us from the mired terrain of selfishness, and we go on to have consciousness of life.

Most human beings in their natural state are unaware of anything: their friends, their spouses, their children, least of all of the feelings that disturb their inner world. To be aware of all the above, peace of heart and security of soul are necessary.





ADAM AND EVE Loss of innocence. Fear, shame, and guilt. Inability to enjoy face to face fellowship with God. Genesis 3:8-10
Innocent bloodshed. Genesis 3:21
Criticism and demands in the first couple. Family harmony broken. Genesis 3:12
Work becomes a burden. Genesis 3:19
Childbirth becomes a source of pain. Genesis 3:16
Mistreatment of men over women. Genesis 3:16
THE HUMAN RACE Sin entered the entire world. Romans 5:12-19
Lack of peace of mind. Isaiah 57:20-21; Job 15:20-35; Psalm 38:5-8; Proverbs 13:15-22; Lamentations 1:20-21
Bound to the constant habit of sinning. John 8:34; Proverbs 5:22; Romans 6:16; 2 Timothy 2:16
Physical death. 1 Corinthians 15:56; Genesis 2:17; 3:19; Proverbs 21:16; Romans 5:12-14; 6:21-23; 1 Corinthians 15:22; James 1:15
Lack of will to live. Ephesians 2:1; Romans 7:9,13; 8:10; Colossians 2:13
Filth. Isaiah 64:6; Psalm 106:39; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 2:22; Lamentations 1:8; Matthew 15:18-20; Mark 7:20-23
Guilt. Ezra 9:6; Genesis 3:10; Psalm 38:3-4; 44:15; Isaiah 59:12-13; Jeremiah 3:25; 14:20
Separation from God. Isaiah 1:15; 59:2; Deuteronomy 31:18; Ezekiel 8:6; Hosea 5:6; Micah 3:4; Ephesians 2:12
Poisoning of human relationships: economic exploitation, racial prejudice, pride, greed, hate, and discrimination based on gender, nationality, language, ethnic group, among others. Deuteronomy 15:7-8; 25:13-15; Isaiah 32:6-7; Micah 2:1-2; James 5:1-6
NATURE Earth tarnished. Genesis 3:17, 18; Jeremiah 12:13; Romans 8:20-22
Pollution of the planet. Leviticus 18:25; Genesis 4:10-12; Numbers 35:33, 34; Psalm 106:38; Isaiah 24:4-6; Jeremiah 3:1

Excerpt from: Ariel A. Roth, Science Discovers God, Hagerstown: Review & Herald, 2008, p. 294.

The perfect world that emerged from the hands of the Creator was deformed by sin. And it was not restricted to Adam and Eve; it affected the entire human race. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

Sin entered the world through Adam, and brought with it its close companion: death. Sin and death are a couple, they are always together. Sin brings death to light. Hence, all human beings sinned in Adam, and all died in him.

Consider forest fires. You take a small match, light it, flick it, and as a result of that minor action an entire forest is destroyed. Because of a match, every tree in the forest is scorched. Likewise, because of a “small” act of disobedience by Adam and Eve, the entire forest of humanity fell and was ruined. Adam lit the match, and we have all been affected. It is amazing what one human being can cause.

But why was all humanity infected with this terrible disease of sin and death? Why everyone? Why not only Adam? If only he sinned, then only he should die. Why did death go to everyone? “Because all sinned.” When did all sin? When Adam sinned.

All sinned through Adam. Why? Because in Adam we were all created. We have not experienced the same process of creation as Adam. We have come into the world through procreation, not by creation. The only persons created were Adam and Eve. It is correct to say we were created in Adam. Without Adam, we would not exist. When Adam was created, we were present in his genetic code. We were part of his “seed.”

We were not there when Adam sinned. We did not eat the fruit, Adam did. We did not disobey God, Adam did. However, in a sense we were there. We were in Adam.

That was the beginning of sin and pain. Death was passed on to all human beings and reached us. Today, pain is part of the human experience. God cannot make us immune to pain. We live in a world of pain and, like it or not, it will affect us.

So what is the advantage of surrendering our hearts to God? It does not necessarily mean getting rid of suffering; but strengthening ourselves to face life’s onslaughts. Suffering is similar to an open wound. If we believe in Jesus Christ, and trust in Him, the wound will get better and heal. If we do not believe, the wound can become infected and lead to death.

In the Bible we find the story of Job, a good man. Nothing blemished the integrity of his character. Nonetheless, suffering came into his life. The biblical account is categorical, asserting that the origin of suffering is in the enemy of God. The devil targeted Job severely. God did not liberate Job from the pain, but strengthened him in the face of his adverse circumstances.

While we live in this world, sooner or later pain will touch our lives. However, do not despair. Suffering can afflict us for one, perhaps two days. But there is always a third day. The shadows of death will vanish to make way for the resurrection of our dreams.

Learn to trust in God in times of prosperity. When bad days arrive, we will see God in the midst of the penumbra of pain.


1. Some religions solve the problem of evil by denying its existence. Hinduism teaches that evil is simply an illusion. In the Western world, Christian Science also views suffering as an illusion.

2. W. K. C. Guthri, Historia de la filosofía griega, vol. IV, Madrid: Gredos, 1988, pp. 23, 24.

3. Isaiah 59:2.