Weakness and vulnerability (arising out of an imperfect natural order) are the conditions necessary for two of the cardinal virtues – courage and self-discipline. Notice that these virtues define our character precisely because they are chosen in the midst of adversity. They define our ability to “pay a price” for our principles and ideals. This “price” gives existential weight to our principles and ideals, for we cannot hold them cheaply.
As may now be evident, the greatest collective human achievements in science, law, government, philosophy, politics and human ideals (to mention but a few areas) seem to have at their base not just an imperfect world, not just individual suffering, not just collective suffering, but epic and even monumental collective suffering. Was an imperfect world necessary for these greatest human achievements? It would seem so (at least partially); otherwise there would have been no room to grow, no challenges to overcome (either individually or collectively), and no ideals to be formulated by meeting these challenges. God would have done them all for us.
Nothing could be worse for a child’s development and capacity for socialization than overprotective parents who think they are doing the child a favor by doing her homework for her, constructing her project for her, thinking for her. To remove all imperfections from a child’s living conditions; to take away all challenges and opportunities to meet adversity, all opportunities to rise above imperfect conditions; to take away all opportunities to create and invent a better future; and to remove the opportunity to exemplify courage and love in the midst of this creativity would be tantamount to a decapitation. God would no more decapitate the collective human spirit than a parent would a child; and so, God not only allowed an imperfect world filled with challenge and adversity, He created it.
There are three other ways in which suffering is involved in the road to salvation: (1) room to participate in building the kingdom, (2) deeper appropriation of faith and greater participation in church community, and (3) offering up our suffering as an act of love for the salvation of the world.
Why would God create an imperfect world? In a word, for the sake of love; for the sake of people like me; for the sake of love manifest as life transformation, virtue, empathy, compassion, humility, agapē; love manifest in creating a better world and even building up the very kingdom of love – the kingdom of the unconditionally loving God. As we have seen, every one of these reasons not only gives noble purpose to this life, but also carries forward to its fulfillment in an eternal and perfectly loving life. It is the noble purpose, which lasts forever. Temporal imperfections in this world lead to eternal perfection in the next. This is the logic of unconditional love.
First you have to change that very first thought. God did not create the world for this reason. God created us for eternal life. He created us to walk with Him, to be with Him, to love Him which He and Adam and Eve did. It was us that chose to sin, we decided we wanted to know everything, which included death and suffering. How can you know everything and not understand death and suffering. Only it was a lie we fell into, we did not become like God. So God had given us free will and when we chose to disobey we sinned.
Now God is Holy, He cannot be with sin, so we had to leave, remember God does not move, He cannot change. Thus, into this world we came, and we got what we wanted, now we get to experience everything, including pain, suffering, and death. Yet, we were created to live eternally, so God being the merciful and loving Father He is, will not allow those who love Him to suffer eternal death, so those who love Him even though we sin, get to be with Him for eternity. Those who hate Him, get what they want, and are separated from Him for eternity.
I recently listened to a CD on suffering, I can’t remember the name of it, but it made an excellent point. Let’s say that you have a choice, you can live in suffering and pain for 70 years and then as a reward you get a million years of absolute total unimaginable bliss. You are guaranteed that you can’t even imagine the happiness and pleasure you will feel for a million years.
Wouldn’t that be a good trade! I’d do 70 years for a million any day of the week, it’s like someone says give me your last 70 dollars and I’ll give you a million! But God doesn’t offer us a million, He doesn’t even say you have to suffer for the 70, He says if you love Him, you will get an eternity of total and absolute bliss and happiness.
Hi. You have asked a very good question, one that been asked by zillion of people. There was simply no answer because of the great contrast that one should endure and experience compared to the concept of God who loves us. I mean no answer that can sufficiently justify our individual experiences of suffering and brokenness.
kyokushin723, we can only refer to the Bible to know why this should happen today.
The short answer is because we live in the world of the ‘fall’. It was not like that where our first parents lived in – all were good and they had the tree of life which they could freely eat (Gen 2:17) and they would live forever – no death, no suffering.
But they disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Because of that they were driven off from Eden, where now the woman would suffer in childbearing and the man had to toil the cursed ground and sweat for his survival. He would experience death, till he return to the ground, for out of it he was taken; he was dust, and to dust he shall return.” (see Gen 3:16-19)
This is call the fall (of man).
And God would not reverse this situation for God had placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life, lest ”the man put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.” (Gen 3:22)
And there the man raised his descendants who live to this day.
So that’s how suffering and death come to us; and which there will be no exemption even for the children of God.
But God had devised a plan of salvation – by sending His Son to redeem us from that death by His death on the cross that by His blood which flowed from him, we can drink of the river of life and live forever.
However, that eternal life is not on earth for now but with God in heaven.
If there is any comfort for us believers, it is that we can look to the future and have hope for a life that will never fade.