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MilkyWay's avatar

If God really loves us so much as some people say, why does he let his loved ones suffer?

Asked by MilkyWay (13745points) May 21st, 2011

People who believe in God believe God loves them. If you believe in God, what is your answer to this question? Yes, I know this life is a test but why would someone who loves you let you go through so much suffering?
This question was going around in my head and I was just wondering what opinion religious people hold on this subject. I myself am born into a believing but not practising family.

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46 Answers

crisw's avatar

I think that this question is probably one of the biggest questions that eventually ends up turning many people towards atheism, especially when they ponder the suffering in nature as well as human suffering. As most religious traditions hold that animals have no souls and cannot go to heaven (and thus cannot be “repaid” for the suffering they endure), there seems to be no religious point to animal suffering. Entire books have been written by theists on this issue.

The entire religious discipline of theodicy attepmts to reconcile the notion of a good and just God with the existence of evil and suffering in the world. You might want to look into it to see the answers that some religious people have come up with.

MilkyWay's avatar

@crisw Thanks, I’ll do that.

SuperMouse's avatar

I was taught growing up that it isn’t God that causes man to suffer, it is man. The theory goes that God created us and gave us freewill, God does not interfere with that freewill. That freewill to make the choices we make, in some cases the choice to hurt others, is what hurts God’s people, not God. I am not sure if I articulated that very clearly because I am not sure I understand the theory completely. I am confident that another theist will expound upon it and help it make more sense.

To me however, the Bahá’í view of tests and difficulties makes more sense. Bahá’í‘s believe that tests are necessary for our spiritual growth. This quote by `Abdu’l-Bahá sums it up for me:

The mind and spirit of man advance when he is tried by suffering. The more the ground is ploughed the better the seed will grow, the better the harvest will be. Just as the plough furrows the earth deeply, purifying it of weeds and thistles, so suffering and tribulation free man from the petty affairs of this worldly life until he arrives at a state of complete detachment. His attitude in this world will be that of divine happiness. Man is, so to speak, unripe: the heat of the fire of suffering will mature him. Look back to the times past and you will find that the greatest men have suffered most.

lillycoyote's avatar

I’ve always though that was a question god should be asking us. Humans are the source and cause of most of the suffering other humans endure so maybe god should be asking us why we cause each other so much misery and/or why we just sit by and let it happen, why we allow it.

MilkyWay's avatar

@SuperMouse Yes, I’ve heard of that, and see that it makes sense to an extent of some of the suffering in this world. But what about poverty? And natural disasters that occur which leave thousands dead?

bkcunningham's avatar

The world that God created for us is Paradise or as some call it heaven. The human race that now exists was born of the first humans created by God to live in the Garden of Eden. God created man in His image but with freewill to make decisions about right and wrong or whatever. Man chose to not believe God and to believe Lucifer, a fallen angel. The world we live in now is Lucifer’s world. There is suffering in this world.

Joker94's avatar

Hmmm…well, the old-school belief was that suffering in this life would lead to eternal bliss in heaven. I think that’s bunk, though. I think that suffering is just another facet of life, albeit a sad one at that. God cares for us a lot, I believe, but I don’t think he likes interfering/intervening in our lives that much anymore. I think he’d rather leave us to our own devices, that way maybe we can put an end to suffering.

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SuperMouse's avatar

@queenie unfortunately I cannot claim to understand the reasons behind natural disasters, poverty, and disease.

I do know that one of the principle beliefs and goals of the Bahá’í‘ Faith is to work to eliminate the extremes of wealth and poverty. I also believe that science and religion are not at odds and I believe in the Big Bang, evolution, and the whole nine yards. That being said, there are scientific rules that apply to this world and nature follows those rules whether that is our preference or not. Being necessarily and constantly bound by those rules, means that there will be natural disasters that are unavoidable.

One of the most interesting and challenging things about being homosapien is something an anthropology professor told me twenty years ago: we are smart enough to ask the questions, but can never be smart enough to answer them.

Pandora's avatar

I agree with @SuperMouse
As for natural disasters and such it, may be that God doesn’t see death as a horrible prospect. After all, all he is doing is calling his children home. Its horrible to us because we imagine the worse in the suffering and the suffering of the ones left behind mourning or injured.
I’m with you in feeling horrible about it but I look at it this way. Every once in a while the farmer has to clear his land so he can plant and grow things for next year. Its a cycle that always continues. If death never came than we would all perish from starvation eventually. And even if you die in your bed, it doesn’t mean it will be painless. I’ve seen people linger in pain for months and then die. If I had a choice between going quickly or taking months of pain to die, I rather the quick version. But I don’t really get a vote on that.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

If there is a God, benevolent or otherwise, he’s probably just doing his job. If everyone had whatever they want, there would be no point in life; we would not appreciate the good things without the bad. Even though it seems horrible that such large-scale, horrible things happen to massive amounts of innocent people, if this never happened things would just be out of control. This Earth is past its carrying capacity, it cannot support this many people. God probably sees that and is doing what he can to make us understand that we need to save ourselves before we end up destroying everything.

Note, I don’t believe in God whatsoever, but I’m trying to put it in a way that would be applicable to believers.

seperate_reality's avatar

I thought we each have freewill? What good is having freewill, if our Father God is going to intervene whenever we fall down?

Hibernate's avatar

One’s suffering is a test and one should understand how he should act.

God give and He takes back. [ who are you (whoever questions the way God acts ) put your judgement above God.

Oh and natural disasters are a form of His way. A way of showing others that they do not act as they should. Some see them as a punishment. Better to be punished here then to suffer whole eternity.

Peace out.

Coloma's avatar

Because ‘God’ is not a ‘He.’

If you are fundamentally religious then this would be your perspective, an omnipotent, magical being that makes daily decisions to drop Pianos on unsuspecting passerby like a Gary Larson cartoon. lol

However…if you see ‘God’ as the ‘one life’ energy, behind all life, you see that there is no ‘He’ that acts in a ‘punishing’ and/or ‘unloving’ way.

‘God’ is simply the universal life force, creative intelligence behind the myriad life forms, and, sometimes, Pianos just fall.

pshizzle's avatar

God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Because God is nothing more than a big celestial cat and we are its mice.

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kess's avatar

Where there is a lack of understanding there will be the perception of problems and hardship., thus the need to ask the question.

When the understanding comes all things become plain… with all who truly understand Love, they would also know that there is no other way,

And they would fully understand the concept “God is Love”...For they themselves would be Love just as God Is.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Abusers always claim they love those they abuse. Really, if you look at the Bible, the big man is a total abusive father figure.

lemming's avatar

I believe things aren’t as bad or as painful as they seem. The only pain I know is what I’ve felt and I can believe there is a God, and many people who have suffered much more than you or me believe and believing alone has helped them so much. Alot of the suffering is because he (it) gave us free will. The worst thing we have to deal with is death, and if you believe in an afterlife of any kind, that’s just a transition.

Uberwench's avatar

@seperate_reality If this is the price of free will, then I’m not buying.

Following up on @incendiary_dan, the lesson of Heaven is obviously that it’s okay to beat the shit out of your kids as long as you buy them a present afterwards.

lillycoyote's avatar

@pshizzle God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.

The people who threw themselves onto the electric fences at Auschwitz to die by electrocution rather than endure the atrocities and horrors of the concentration camps and the people who jumped out of the windows of The World Trade Center rather than be burned alive, for example, might have disagreed with that little aphorism.

lemming's avatar

I believe everything is working out as best as it possibly can, and so I believe God would kill me if he needs to, but it’s ok, because I know it’s for the best. I for one, cannot live in a world where some people disappear into nothing, and others (juat a few) don’t burn in hell. I really do believe in God, however abstract.

Uberwench's avatar

@lillycoyote But don’t you see? That just proves they were weak souls who deserved to die! It’s all about faith! ~

lillycoyote's avatar

@Uberwench My comment wasn’t meant as a criticism of faith in general, that is up to the individual, just a comment on that particular phrase. I think the phrase, the concept trivializes what many people in the world go through and implies that somehow suffering and trial are given to people by god instead of the result of the way humans have chosen to run the world, therefore we are not responsible for fixing it. If there is a god, I don’t think he, she or it sits around passing out misery and miracles.

meiosis's avatar

God lets people suffer because he/she/it doesn’t exist.

Perhaps another question worth pondering, if one is of the opinion that suffering Is a test from a god, is why do good things happen to bad people.

Coloma's avatar


Just ordered it, more philosophy on the half shell. lol Oh ‘God’, my Amazon addiction causes suffering. haha

ddude1116's avatar

Because decisions have consequences, and God knows that. It’s like a Father who raises a son, then the son goes out and disobeys him, drastically. And when he’s in trouble, the Father must leave him to face his punishment because now there are others at stake who will not disobey.

Roby's avatar

The bible says that God is not a respecter of persons…He does not show partiality or favoritism. This is debunked
when some folks are born with supper intelligence and others are born retarted. Some are born with supper attractiveness and others are born down right ugly. Is this devine favoritism?.

BeckyKytty's avatar

If it wasn’t for the black coal, and all the pressure, the diamond would never appear
If the blackboard wasn’t black, there would not be enough contrast to read the message
If there was no gap between the pretty flowers, all there would be is a big blurr
If I didn’t have pain, how would I know what no pain was in contrast?
If I didn’t know fear, I could not feel security
If I didn’t know hate, I couldn’t appreciate love


WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I honestly don’t know the answer to that, and as a result, I am angry with God quite a bit of the time.

MilkyWay's avatar

Thank you all once again, I really appreciate it :)

Hibernate's avatar

Thanks for asking too ^^

flo's avatar

I can’t imagine why they would believe that. I heard “Stockholm Syndrome.”

gr8teful's avatar

The same could be said of mankind-why do we needlessly let people suffer just because we believe that we are right?My point being in Switzerland assisted suicide is allowed for persons with either a terminal or mental illness if they so choose-legally-except now if you have a mental illness apparantly they can no longer help you although they used to be able to-because a Government has decided this is wrong.Even if the person chooses for themselves.In other Countries there is no assisted suicide even if you have a terminal illness.A Government decides this.What right do they have to let a person needlessly suffer?

NanoNano's avatar

For the same reason that parents let children go to school, play outside, learn to drive cars, and date.

You develop character and a sense of innate joy by overcoming problems and learning from your mistakes.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@NanoNano You might want to look up the word innate before you use it again.

NanoNano's avatar

I used it the way I meant it. Perhaps you don’t believe human beings possess innate joy Espiritus? That’s sad.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@NanoNano It has nothing to do with what I believe, it has to do with how you used the word innate in that sentence:
You develop character and a sense of innate joy…
Something innate is not developed as stated in your sentence. If it’s innate, it’s inborn.

NanoNano's avatar


You must have a very unhappy life that you find it necessary to nitpick the posts of others on Fluther. “Innate” qualities can be inherent and at the same time require development.

A flower has innate beauty before it blooms. A sunset has innate beauty before the sun fully sets. A child has innate beauty before it is born.

A company can have innate beauty while it is still in the imagination of the entrepreneur.

A car can have innate beauty while it is on the design board at a manufacturer.

A painting, sculpture, musical score, or novel can have innate beauty not yet fully realized while the artist is in the process of creating it.

Explain to me how you find it justifiable to spend your life nitpicking word usage on a public forum like Fluther?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@NanoNano Well, I’m glad to see you taking constructive criticism so well. I’ll now leave you with your “innate” and well-developed defense mechanism along with your poor use of the word.

NomoreY_A's avatar

What makes people believe that an omnipotent, all powerful deity would worry and fret over the piss ant inhabitants of one little back water planet in his / her / its vast cosmos? It’s as if you were to find yourself strolling alone down a beautiful, isolated stretch of pristine beach, then suddenly flop on your butt and stress out over the goings on of the microbes and molecules on one crappy little grain of sand, I mean, think about it.

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