Some questions about Suffering and Evil by Colin Maxwell
I am currently reading a very disturbing (secular) book on the Soviet Gulags by Anne Applebaum. Page after page is full of human suffering as millions of people (including many Christians) starved, slaved and were beaten and/or tortured in the Soviet camps, as they endured 12+ hour working days in sub zero temperatures with inadequate clothing. It ain’t happy reading. Tonight’s reading brought me face to face with the children of the prisoners, some of whom were “arrested” with their parents or had the misfortune to be born in the camps and left to the “mercy” of a system which routinely left them to scream unfed, unnourished and unwanted in crude cots in unheated rooms. If I have nightmares tonight, then I will not be in the least surprised.
I haven’t finished that particular chapter. I took a break to write this post and ask a question which must haunt every Christian. Why is there such cruel suffering in the world? We know the stock (Biblical) answer that such cruelty is in the world because of sin. Had Adam not have fallen, then sin, misery and death would not have entered into the world. Christians differ somewhat as to why Adam did fall. However, we but differ in the details and we cannot miss the fact that God easily could have prevented the circumstances that led to the Fall and therefore prevented it from happening and the subsequent effects.
This cannot be seriously doubted.
Although the Gulags are gone, yet tonight there is much cruelty in the world. God could end it all in a single moment of time. We know that there is coming a day when such things will be ended by His power. But He could intervene this very night and end it now. Some people are providentially delivered from such places. Perhaps they are unexpectedly excused from going in the first place, or they are released early or escape. Others go through the full rigour and are only released because the torturer went too far or the untended to sickness ushered in death.
Here are a few uncomfortable questions for Christians from all schools. If God could end it all today (as He will indeed some day) why then does He not do so? What is He seeking to prove by consciously and deliberately letting it all run? Has any point that He wished to make not already been made? We already know that man left unrestrained is a cruel beast. The Bible tells us this and human history bears it out. We already have many contemporary examples (freely available on YouTube in less than half a dozen computer actions) and therefore if it all was ended tonight, we would not lack source material.
Apart from another stock (though Biblcial) answer, that God’s purposes are somehow being worked out in all these things, I don’t think I can go much further. Can you?