If God is good, why doesn’t he stop human suffering?

Photo Credit: benreed.net

I know there is great risk of sounding trite in attempting a short answer to such a complex question, but I recently received an insight that I found quite profound.

We live in a world damaged by sin. As long as Satan is the god of this world there will be suffering. Most Christians accept this truth, but it is difficult knowing that God could stop it.

So, what would an end to sin and suffering look like? We would have a gloriously perfect world! A world, in fact, exactly like the one God has promised will come one day. The question, therefore, is not, ‘why won’t God end suffering,’ but rather, ‘why won’t God end suffering now?’

I recently heard Dr. Les Crawford, from the Adelaide College of Ministries, make this comment: ‘If God brought in the new heaven and the new earth now – that would be the end of redemption.’

It really hit me. To end suffering would mean to destroy all that is corrupted by sin. And God’s glorious agenda is to bepatient…not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Some people face horrific suffering in this life, and I don’t want to trivialise that, but we must not judge God to be unkind for not yet transforming the world. He does it out of a heart of amazing grace, because He knows that while we are here, our suffering is temporary, but once the doors close on redemption, it is eternal.

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11 comments on “If God is good, why doesn’t he stop human suffering?

  1. Sara says:

    That’s the best short answer explanation of suffering I’ve read… Well said

  2. Unknown says:

    How do you reconcile the New Heavens and Earth with sinners in it?

    Rev 22:15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

    • sarsrose says:

      Hi, Thanks for your comment, thought I’m struggling to see where you’re coming from. I think the Bible is quite clear that sin will be ‘banished’ from the new heavens and earth. Earlier in the chapter of Revelation that you quoted, it says “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.” (v3) Chapter 21:25&27 says “and its gates will never be shut by day…But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
      The verse that you quoted starts with ‘Outside,’ a fairly clear indication that those mentioned in the verse (and not covered by the saving blood of Jesus) will not be a part of the new heavens and earth. Granted the verse that you are quoting, and those surrounding it are talking specifically of the new Jerusalem, but I think that thorough reading of the scriptures will make it clear to you that there are completely seperate dwelling places for the ‘redeemed’ and those who chose to die in their sin.
      I hope that answers your question.

  3. Unknown says:

    Does it say that they are outside the New Heavens and Earth? It would appear that it’s saying they are outside the City which would be the New Jerusalem.

     14  “How blessed are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city!

     15  Outside are dogs, sorcerers, immoral people, murderers, idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

    It would appear to be saying that there is a New Heavens and Earth, within that is a city called the New Jerusalem, those who have washed their robes enter the city but outside the city, yet still in the New Heavens and Earth, are the individuals who haven’t been washed. Your thoughts?

    • sarsrose says:

      I can see how you can get that impression from that section of scripture, however I believe there are other parts that make it clear that the word ‘outside’ is not limited to the New Jerusalem.
      2 Peter 3:7,10, 13 says that ‘the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgement and destruction of ungodly men… the heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare… but we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.’
      Then in Revelation 20, when it talks about the great white throne judgement it says that ‘the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hades gave up the dead that were in them and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found in the book of life, he was thrown in the fire.’ THEN in ch 21 it says ‘Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…’ before it goes on to speak more specifically of the new Jerusalem.

      From these scriptures I would say it is clear that those who die in their sin are dealt with very seperately and that when the new heavens and earth come, it is ONLY for those whose names are in the book of life. The fact that it then states that ‘sinners’ will not be able to enter the New Jerusalem, does not mean that they are present in the new heavens and earth (as this would be inconsistent with the other verses.)

      This is my take on it, based on my understanding of the scriptures, and I do believe it is quite clear on this subject, but am also reluctant to make statements that are too definite when dealing with future prophecy, that will one day be revealed more completely. I’m not sure we can have a full understanding of the actual locations of heaven and hell. There may be all sorts of different dimensions that come into place, but I have no doubt they are very seperate.

      Good questions though. Made me think and get the Bible out! You have a different perspective?

  4. Unknown says:

    Context:
    Noun

    1.The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.
    2.The parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.

    Would you say that the CONTEXT of the following passages, and specifically the word ‘outside’, is the New Heavens and Earth or the New Jerusalem?

    Rev 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.
    Rev 22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
    Rev 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.
    Rev 22:15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
    Rev 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

    • sarsrose says:

      Sure, the context for those verses would be the New Jerusalem. My point was just that ‘outside’ the new Jerusalem does not necessarily mean inside the heavens and earth. And I think that other scriptures are clear that it would also be outside the heavens and earth too.

  5. Tara says:

    Check out the book The Grand Demonstration by Jay E Adams I think you would find it very interesting.

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