How Far Will God Go to Stop Suffering?
Many people believe that God is indifferent to the pain and suffering that we go through. After all, if He is all-powerful and if He opposes evil and suffering, then why does He allow them to happen?
It seems only logical that if He allows them to happen He must approve of them, and if God approves of suffering and evil then He cannot be good. This reasoning about the nature of God developed as a response to teaching from the church that God is in control of everything and that everything that happens is His will, including suffering and evil.
The idea that suffering and evil are the will of God is an ancient philosophy that was given new life during the Protestant reformation. Drawing on a few passages from scripture like Romans chapter nine, men like John Calvin developed a view of God that has Him in control of everything. Romans nine states that God has predestined some to be saved and others to be objects of wrath. This chapter essentially teaches that all the outcomes of life are predetermined by God and we cannot change any of them. This teaching completely ignores the fact that man has a responsibility to exercise his free will.
Is God in Control of Everything?
I’ve thought about this question for years and here’s how I finally settled it:
The bible views life from two perspectives; ours and God’s. Most of the passages of scripture view life from man’s perspective and teach that we have choices to make. When the Bible says, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life,” it is obviously speaking from man’s perspective. Romans chapter nine, which sees God in control of our choices, views life from His perspective.
The view that God is in control is a valid perspective to live from, but only under one condition: It is valid if you happen to be God, and if you happen to know all these things. While I can accept the fact that God’s perspective is valid for Him, I can only view life from that perspective if I happen to be God. Since I’m not God and I don’t know who has been predestined to be saved or healed, I must operate from the perspective that I have free will and I must make choices.
The Reality of Free Will
God could have made us in such a way that we would always do His perfect will. In such a world everyone would always do what was just, right and fair. If that were the case, there would be no evil or suffering. But if we always did what was right, we would not have the ability to choose to do evil. And without the ability to choose between good and evil, we would be nothing more than robots, devoid of free will.
We would also not have the capacity to love, because love is a choice. In order for us to be able to choose to love, we must be able to choose not to love. We must be able to choose to hate and to hurt others. Suffering and evil are permitted, not because God wants them, but because their very existence gives us the freedom to love others.
God wants us to have the freedom to make choices; whether for good or for evil. Evil is a necessary consequence of allowing us to have free will, and allowing us to have free will is God’s top priority. But the fact that He allows evil and suffering to exists does not mean He is not actively opposing them. It’s just that He cannot force people to refrain from doing evil without removing their free will.
God will never over-ride a person’s free will, so He won’t force an abusive father to stop beating his son. If He did, he would remove their ability to choose and negate their free will. So He must oppose evil and suffering in another way. Rather than directly negating the free will of those who want to do violence, He opposes them by recruiting people who are willing to use their free will to accomplish His divine purpose.
How God Opposes Suffering Through Us
We’ve been given the ability to partner with God as He enforces His will in the earth. By bringing healing to those who suffer illness and injury, deliverance to those who are tormented by demons and by interceding for those who suffer violence, we are God’s hands that do the work that accomplishes His will. If we refuse to partner with God, we are to blame for the continuation of suffering and violence. God opposes tyranny, injustice, abuse, and violence through us when we submit our will to accomplishing His work.
Last night, a man told me of an experience he had one night after drifting off to sleep. He was taken in the spirit to a place in the heavens where he met about six other people. Gauging by how they were dressed, he had to assume the others had come from different time periods spanning thousands of years, including one person who looked as if he had come from the future. They had all been brought there to interceded for a boy who was being beaten by his father. The group spent time praying for the boy and when their prayer time was done, they departed. The man who had this experience found himself back in his bed.
How far will God go to stop evil? He is so interested in stopping evil, that He’ll find people scattered over different time periods in history and bring them together in one place in eternity to pray in agreement for one boy to be spared the beatings of an abusive father. That’s how much He loves each of us.
I love your posts! I have recently enrolled in SoKM (School of Kingdom Ministry) thru Vineyard/ Putty Putman and includes a section on “worldviews”… Which term is not on the Bible but filter everything we hear, believe, and act upon. Jesus talked some much about the eye is the lamp of the body (John) which the eye is our perspective or worldview on x or y. If the worldview or perspective is wrong much will be the darkness. It has been fascinating to see how our culture, experiences and what we are taught shape our faith and how we receive and minister. John Wimber coined the term but is awesome to be able to see our worldview in respect to how we believe The Lord and we renew our mind. I think you would find it fascinating and in a different way confirming everything you minister and write about. Blessings to you! 🙂
I love God’s timing on these things! Just today I was listening to the Friday session of the Gathering with Steve Peace Harmon talking about this very thing………So excellent. Like you, he shares in such a way that understanding and clarity seem such a simple thing. God is the owner of the ‘business’ and we are the general managers……..and He ‘s raising up GM’s all the world to take care of business. God really will go from the beginning to the end of time and all over this planet to save even one.
Can’t wait to finally hear more of the sessions.
May I ask if the Gathering teachings are on you tube or iTunes where Steve was sharing? Also, where is it or what’s the full name? As there are several Gatherings listed? Thank u!
I believe that the Bible was inspired by God and written by men chosen by God to do so. God has given us a free will and will not interfere with that. I agree that He will do all that He can in order to save someone. It is not His will that we be sick. We are called to heal the sick in the Name of Jesus. We won’t all agree on the theology. I don’t even care to there. I know that there are incorrect translations in the Bible. However, overall, it is the incorruptible Word of God. We believe God and we hang on to His promises to us. We obey Him in where He calls for obedience. We fellowship with God daily. We need Him so much. We were made to worship Him. It’s in our DNA. God loves it when we talk with Him and spend time with Him. We listen to what he gently speaks to us. We follow the leading of Holy Spirit.We love Him and love mankind. It’s pretty simple.
As for the suffering in the world, when things get out of control and people are seeking the face of God on these matters, He will answer their prayers and intervene. God created man in His image. Evil is as a result of the angels who rebelled against God. When men become too wicked and are given opportunity after opportunity to change and they don’t, God answers the prayers of the saints who cry out to Him on behalf of this evil. He is Love and He is also Judge. Even through His judgments, He is a loving God.
I love Him and recognize that my thoughts are not as high as our Lord’s. He knows far better than we do. He is our Creator.
Thanks for allowing me to share my 2 cents worth.
thanks for this article PM. I am fasting praying and crying out to Father God for DIVINE INTERVENTION for the 20,000 ORPHANS on the border of Iraq and Turkey who parents have been beheaded by ISIS. O Father heal them of FEAR, TRAUMA and send people or ANGLES with FOOD & WATER in Jesus mighty name!