Where is loving God in times of people’s suffering? Anti-God activists questioning

The concern and question about whether God exists or not is deepening and widening worldwide in the 21st Century and Malawi is not an exception. I believe that the likes of  Goerge Thindwa in Malawi are many with pressing questions and with little reasoning, making some sense and need answers.

Some of the questions some of these people and sometimes even believers ask are; if God really exists and He is loving, where was He when I lost my father and my mother in an accident? Why have many of my relatives died leaving me and my sister or brother alone? Who brings death, is it God or the devil? Why did God allow me to suffer orphan-hood from a very tender age? Why did I have to suffer in the hands of my stepmother/stepfather? I do pray, why am I poor and wicked people are rich? Besides seizeless prayers, why am I not getting well from my sickness? Why did I lose a job unfairly when I am the only bread winner in my family? Why do I keep on begging to pay rent, school fees and buy food? Why is corruption high beside the loving God? Why do good people suffer and wicked people enjoy life? If this God is love and He is loving, why don’t I have a child of my own when prostitutes dump babies? If God loves us all, why was I born this way and in poor family? Where is God when we have no food?

If God loves me, why doesn’t He protect me from my violent husband/wife? If God really loves me, why am I not promoted in spite of my hard work at workplace? Why am I not getting a job after many years of my graduation? I am a descent woman, why am I not getting married when promiscuous women are? Why did I have to find out about the unfaithfulness of my fierce very close to our wedding or even after we have wedded? Why don’t I have a husband of my own but in a polygamous marriage after being cheated on? Why did my husband/wife divorce me at a time I need him/her most? If God exists, why did He allow me to be abandoned by a man who impregnated me? Why is my business not going on well? If God is all knowing, why did he allow robbers to kill my husband, rape me and steal our goods? Why did I lose a court case even when I was in the right and had strong evidences in place? If God is fair, why was I jailed when I did nothing wrong?

Thindwa - Heads the Association for Secular Humanism  and believes there is no God

Thindwa – Heads the Association for Secular Humanism and believes there is no God

Lack of answers to these questions and many others make people doubt the existence of God. People need answers to such questions. I am not an expert and cannot promise to give satisfying answers to every question; however I believe that the discussion below will help us get answers to some of these questions. It should be noted that, some of the things need faith which atheists would not want to hear. As a Christian, I will discuss these concerns in a Christian perspective and believe that none-Christians will have a glimpse of sense in it.

One thing that all of us should acknowledge is that God exists and he is a loving God. The fact that many bad things do happen to us does not justify God’s non-existence. God has done us many good things also including life we have. We should note that; it is only fair not to attribute to God bad things happening to us because God has given us a degree of free will and therefore cannot override the will of creatures who want to do evil (this is called the theology of free will). “When you get your father’s car, there is no point for your father to drive behind you to see if you are following the rules to avoid accident (Thuo Phillip). He puts some degree of trust in us. God is democratic God. God did and does not impose things on us. Democracy we talk about, did not start with us but with God, the creator. The loving God in his loving and kindness gave clear instructions to Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for when he eats, he will surely die (Gen. 2:15-17) who also told the same to His wife. God warns man and says, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you, life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deu. 30:19 NIV).

The loving God emphasises that we chose life and not death and of course by doing what is right. At the very beginning, man chose to disobey God, death came upon the world. You may also ask, “Why do good people die earlier than evil people?” God is sovereign and all knowing; we don’t have the capacity to judge who is good and who is bad absolutely. God knows us better than we know others and ourselves. We should also note that, death though came as a curse does not necessarily mean that those who die are evil or it should be only evil people to die. Some good people die earlier than we would wish because the sovereign God has seen it fit to take such a life. God knows how long each one of us will live though sometimes we shorten our life spans by our lifestyles. God may decide to take someone’s life because he/she has accomplished the mission God had created her/him for. The world is evil and not good to cling to when God calls for our lives.

You may also ask, “Why should we be punished for the sin of Adam?” Adam serves as a representative where humanity begun and what happened to him God made it to affect us because we are also human. Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin… (Romans 5:12). Today, there are some things which we enjoy or suffer because of our forefathers’ decisions. The same applies to the issue of Adam’s sin and death affecting us today. Adam was the root of humanity and there is a high probability that, if we were Adam, we would have done the same or even worse. “Who brought death then?” God is the author of death which was meant to punish the devil for his rebellion against God but because of listening to the devil, death affects us too.

In other things which happen to us, the concept of sovereignty of God and the freedom of choice to man applies. God decides what to do with the world/our lives and how because he created it/us. He is a sovereign God and there are some things we cannot question God about when they happen. We shall know when we get there. The other things, whether good or bad do happen to us as a result of freedom of choice that though God urged us to choose life and blessings, by our actions, we happen to choose death and curses. We should not blame God for bad things happening to us for God is not tempted by evil (James 1:13). If we think that God has tempted us, we are saying that firstly God was tempted by the devil to do evil/tempt us which is impossible. You mould a pot and decide to change its shape or destroy it at any time and the pot will not question you about that (Jeremiah 18).

You may ask, “How could a good God allow evil and suffering?” Well, many people do ask such a question and the theodicy theology helps to answer it. Theology of theodicy is drawn from the answers by different theologians. Theology of Irenean teaches that evil motivates us to seek knowledge from God. When there is no evil, we become reluctant to seek God but when we are hit by evil and suffering, we run to God. Thus to those who happen to believe in God. Augustinian theodicy theology states that evil and suffering prevailed in the world as a result of the fall of man, thus our sufferings are as a result of our disobedience to God. As explained above, if man obeyed God, there would be no evil or suffering in the world. Because evil has prevailed, we sometimes happen to suffer in the hands of other people because of their wickedness and not ours but God sees he always provides the way out.

Remember that our discussion of the existence of evil and suffering is based on the fall/disobedience of man. On this John Hicks states that “evil has redemptive value.” It is because of the existence of evil after the fall that God sent his son. Evil led to incarnation of Christ and redemption of humanity after man had fallen short from the glory of God (Romans 3:23). David Griffin’s Theology states that evil makes it necessary for God to expose his powers e.g. Exodus story and the story of the legion in Luke 8:27-39. God is seen to be powerful when He defeats evil and suffering in our lives but this mostly happens when we acknowledge his powers. The existence of evil attests to the existence of God. It is the acknowledgement of the existence of evil that we realise that God who can defeat evil exists. Evil was brought by the devil but good is brought by our loving God.

You may ask, “I do what is good to people why I must suffer?” Remember that Jesus who did nothing wrong suffered in the hands of sinful people and we are not an exception. God loves us and at times our love for Him is expressed through our endurance in suffering just as we sometimes do with our spouses. God has suffered our insults, mistrust and disobedience, what does He get from us?

God really exists. Cosmology (creation we see should have been created by someone and thus God), moral law (who set what to be good and bad should be God), ontology (we conceive the image of the super being/God, what is conceived must exist) and teleological (the world is a complex being which must have been designed by a complex being, thus God) arguments attest to the existence of God.

I hope this discussion has helped answer some questions asked by atheists like Thindwa and also at times believers. Note that what God has hidden from us, cannot be answered no matter what, thus my limit too but realise that most bad things happen to us as a result of our own choices and disobedience to God’s expectations. We have a right to make choices but remember that choices have consequences.

May God bless Malawi!

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