Human Suffering


Gene H. Miller

The recent tragedy in the Indian Ocean has spawned a renewed interest in the age-old question of God and Human Suffering.

Questions Being Asked: How can religious people explain something like this? How could God let this happen? Does God send earthquakes and tsunamis, indifferent to human distress? How are we to understand the role of God in the face of such immense human suffering?

Two Kinds Of Suffering. Much human suffering is the result of disregarding moral law. Sin is transgression of the moral laws of God (1 John 3:4). God gave man freedom of choice. Sometimes we suffer because we make bad choices. Sometimes we suffer because folks around us make bad choices. Cain suffered because of bad choices he made, but Abel also suffered because of Cain's bad choices. We can understand tragedies like Dachau, Oklahoma City, the Twin Towers, etc. Could God have prevented those? Sure He could have, but He would have had to take away somebody's freedom to choose.

Much human suffering is the result of disregarding physical law. Folks suffer injury, and often death, when they are careless with the laws of physics, for example, the law of gravity. Electricity, fire, and water are good, but they can cause suffering and death when not properly used. Could God prevent such suffering? Sure He could, but He would have to suspend dependable, physical law. Those laws weren't designed with an off/on switch.

So, much of the suffering we experience in life is at least somewhat under human control. Much we bring on ourselves when we disregard or are careless with God's moral and physical laws, but what about things like earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, floods, etc. Man has no control over those things. Is not God to blame for those kinds of disasters? How can we resolve such things with a kind, loving Heavenly Father?

Our Sin Cursed World. We must remember that this earth is not the earth God created in the beginning. There were no earthquakes and tsunamis in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:17-18. In pronouncing the curse upon Adam, God said, "cursed is the ground for thy sake ... thorns also (ghm) and thistles shall it bring forth to thee ..." It appears that the ground is under a curse in addition to bringing forth thorns and thistles. What is involved in that curse? What brought that on? Man's sin.

Genesis 6:11-13. Because all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth, God said, "I will destroy them with the earth." How did He "destroy" the earth? What was involved in that destruction? Why was He going to destroy the earth? Man's sin.

Genesis 7:11-12. In bringing the flood upon the earth, the record states, "the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened." What was involved in breaking up the fountains of the great deep? What would that do to the earth's crust? What brought this on? Man's sin.

Romans 8:18-23. In this passage, Paul pictures the creation anxiously awaiting the resurrection of God's people, "because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption ..." What is involved in that bondage of corruption? Paul goes on to say that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together ..." Why does the creation groan and travail in pain? Because it is under a curse.

These passages certainly do not answer all our questions, but they should help us understand that the disasters that occur on the earth are not God's doing, but come either directly or indirectly as the result of man's doing. We can avoid much suffering in this life by learning and observing God's laws, both moral and physical. -HC 84, Box 80, Shock, WV 26638-9502. 304 462-0384. E-Mail:


Return to West Virginia Christian