My focus on this subject is limited to what we think about God as we observe unrelenting, horrible suffering. Not to mention the eternal separation from God’s divine love in hell. But before I say anything further, I agree with Don Carson that “Evil is not a problem with God as it is with us” (see his most helpful book, “How Long O Lord”). Not because God does not care but because we think we know better than him, as if God had no right to create if he knew that this world would be filled with pain and suffering.
When the collision of God’s character (absolutely good and powerful) and my view of suffering hit head-on in my mind, I at least do two things quickly:
First, Run to the Cross. When I see Christ I see what Paul sees – the “wisdom and power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18-24). In the Cross of Christ I see the most despicable and grotesque suffering ever conceived by mortal man. In the Cross of Christ I see and hear vomit-inducing imagery and sounds that would haunt you ’till your old and grey. Others were crucified too along with Christ. But what makes this crucifixion the most wretched of all human suffering is that Jesus was beautiful, innocent, and God’s Son. God did not exclude himself from the suffering of our condition. All of our emotional upheavals and perplexity of soul and mind must factor in the sufferings of Christ. If I can heartily and gladly affirm that the sufferings of Christ is the power and wisdom and holiness and compassion and justice and love of God, then I can believe that God is up to something that is bigger than my ability to understand.
Secondly, and only if you can embrace the first reason, Wait for the Future.
In our resurrected bodies we will be changed to feel, know, and see the full dimensions of God’s personhood. His character and his ways will no longer be hidden from view. John says that one day we will sing with complete and joyful conviction:
“Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name?For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.
” After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever” Revelation :15:3, 19:1-3 (psalm 18:30)
Dear saint who is sick of the suffering in this evil world, you and I can believe along with John that all of God’s temporal and eternal ways with his world are true and just.
If John could wait for that day then you can too. If John can believe that the Risen-Lamb-Lion will so illuminate our understanding of this Roman crucifying, abortion supporting, sex/slave trafficking, murdering and raping world that we live in, then we can believe in the gospel and the implications of the gospel. An innocent God/Man voluntarily laid down his life and rose again so that anyone who believes upon him for eternal life may have their sins forgiven and be set free from this sin-cursed world. There is no better alternative than to believe and wait! Even Jesus himself believed in his Father’s ways, and is still waiting for his Father’s consummation of all things (1 Cor. 15:20-28). You’re not alone!