How Can We Understand Suffering?

This world is the battlefield of a war that started far away from here, in heaven. Ezekiel 28:13-19 and Isaiah 14:12-14 describe what triggered the conflict: pride and vanity. Lucifer was a perfect angel created by God, entrusted with a chief position, loved and respected by everyone. However, envy sprouted in his heart, and he desired the position that belonged to God alone.

A third of the angels (see Rev. 12:4) chose to join Lucifer. The universe watched to see what would happen. Would God be a tyrant, as Lucifer accused him of being? Did having laws that His creatures must obey prove God’s arbitrariness, or were they for their benefit and protection?

Some people wonder: If the all-knowing God knew about Lucifer’s feelings from the beginning, why didn’t He destroy him before the controversy spread? If God had destroyed the devil from the beginning, how would the rest of God’s creatures have felt? The Creator had to allow the rebellion’s consequences to be known so that anyone could make their choice and decide whom they wanted to follow. He also had to offer a fair chance so that the rebel could return to the good path by his own will, even though he finally did not choose to do so.

Others go further and question: Couldn’t God have created a universe in which evil wouldn’t exist? Let’s try to answer with another question: Can God create a square circle? It makes no sense, because God does not violate His own laws, and does not work with logical impossibilities. To create a universe with beings gifted with free will, God had to take risks, including the risk that they could choose evil. God didn’t want to create robots that are programmed to only obey. God is love (1 John 4:8) and wants to be loved, but love requires free will. Nobody can be forced to love.

Evil exists because God gifted us with free will. If God didn’t exist, the definition of evil itself would be meaningless, given that evil is the opposite of good, and without an absolute moral to compare it to, how would we determine which is which? We know a line is crooked because we can compare it to a straight line.

War always brings trauma. If you doubt it, ask an ex-combatant. But it is good to know that, despite all this, God is personally committed to our redemption, even if we all suffer war wounds.

The Bible assures us that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). Evil and suffering don’t come from God, but at an infinite cost to Himself, He will end evil and suffering once and for all.