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Number one question -. “If you could ask God only one question and you knew He would give you an answer, what would you ask?” “Why? Why is there pain and suffering in the world?”. Before… … the Indian Ocean Tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004. After…. Quote from news reporter after Katrina.

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number one question
Number one question -
  • “If you could ask God only one question and you knew He would give you an answer, what would you ask?”
  • “Why? Why is there pain and suffering in the world?”
quote from news reporter after katrina
Quote from news reporter after Katrina
  • “If this world is the product of intelligent design, then the designer has some explaining to do.”

“I have found that religious believers are often conditioned to accept trite solutions to the problem of suffering, and that it is all but impossible to shake that conditioning through dry analysis.”

from an atheist website

evil pain and suffering here s the agnostic atheist argument
Evil, Pain and Suffering: Here’s the agnostic/atheist argument
  • Agnostic:
    • God of the Bible is completely good and loving.
    • God of the Bible is all-knowing and all-powerful.
    • Conclusion: Given all the evil, pain and suffering in the world, the God of the Bible is not real.
question to the atheist agnostic
Question to the atheist/agnostic
  • Does NOT believing in God help with evil, pain and suffering?
  • Just asking…
  • There are no easy answers to the problem that affects everyone regardless of what they believe about God.
everybody hurts
Everybody Hurts
  • Physical pain: acute and chronic
  • Disease: acute and chronic
  • Broken relationships
  • Poverty, hunger, etc.
  • Violence; terrorism, genocide, violent crime, etc.
  • Chronic fear (rape, natural disasters, abuse, etc.)
  • Disappointment, feelings of failure, loss of hope
  • Death of a loved one, mourning

To call something evil, you presuppose there is such a thing as “good” or that there is a “moral law” and a “Lawgiver”

round up the usual suspects
Round up the usual suspects
  • Don’t question God. His ways are so above our understanding that it’s futile to even wonder “why”?
  • We don’t know. We have no idea why these things happen.
  • Others…
we can suggest these causes of suffering
We Can Suggest These Causes of Suffering
  • Free Will – people can make choices
  • Sin = people make poor choices
  • Natural Disasters = processes happen
  • Stupidity = Darwin Awards
free will god gives us a choice
Free Will: God Gives Us a Choice
  • 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 love the Lord your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. Deut 30:19-20 (HCSB)
  • “…choose for yourselves today the one you will worship…”

Josh 24:15 (HCSB)

  • “My teaching isn’t Mine, but is from the One who sent Me. 17If anyone wants to do His will, he will understand whether the teaching is from God or if I am speaking on My own.

John 7:16-17 (HCSB)

cause of human suffering and evil sin
Cause of Human Suffering and Evil: SIN
  • The great majority (but not all) of suffering is the result of sin
    • Addiction, lack of self-control
    • Sexual immorality, perversion and abuse
    • Anger, violence
    • Greed
    • Pride, arrogance, jealousy, desire for control
    • Selfishness
but what about god

But what about God?

“Even an all-powerful God could not have created a world in which people had genuine freedom and yet there was no potentiality for sin, because our freedom includes the possibility of sin.”


25 “But you say: The Lord’s way isn’t fair. Now listen, house of Israel: Is it My way that is unfair? Instead, isn’t it your ways that are unfair? Ezekiel 18:25 (HCSB)


“There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way”

C.S. Lewis

is sin the cause of all suffering
Is Sin the Cause of All Suffering?

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man sinned nor his parents,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him. 4 We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:2-5 (HCSB)

causes of suffering 3 natural causes
Causes of Suffering #3: Natural Causes
  • Plate Tectonics- earthquakes and tsunamis
  • Weather – hurricanes, floods, tornadoes
  • Bacteria and viruses - disease


Can’t rule that out

god is good

God Is Good

And He is not distant


5 For your husband is your Maker— His name is  Yahweh of  Hosts— and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth. Isaiah 54:5 (HCSB)


10 Though the mountains move and the hills shake, My love will not be removed from you and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” says your compassionate Lord. Isaiah 54:10 (HCSB)

5 father to the fatherless defender of widows this is god whose dwelling is holy psalms 68 5 nlt
5 Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God, whose dwelling is holy. Psalms 68:5 (NLT)

“I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” John Stott


38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! Romans 8:38-39 (HCSB)

Even if we can’t know why some things happen,

we can know

what didn’t cause them. And in that, we can find HOPE!


25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. 26 Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever.

Do you believe this?”       John 11:25-26 (HCSB)


“Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead! Is everything sad going to come untrue?”


“The answer is YES. And the answer of the Bible is YES. If the resurrection is true, then the answer is yes. Everything sad is going TO COME UNTRUE.” Tim Keller


5 And the one sitting on the throne said, "Look, I am making all things new!" And then he said to me, "Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true."

Rev 21:5 (NLT)

what should we do
What Should We Do?
  • Live with integrity, like Job. “Yet though He slay me, still I will trust Him.”
  • Use your suffering as an opportunity to show empathy. Remember – everybody hurts
  • Alleviate suffering, not because it is evil, but because that is how God responds to suffering
  • Show compassion. Care for the weak and the defenseless. Honor God with your life.