Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ten Questions: Number Two

So the second question is: Why are there so many starving people in our world?

Look out at our world and notice that millions of children are dying of starvation. It really is horrific. Why would God be worried about you getting a raise, while at the same time ignoring the prayers of these desperate, innocent little children? It really doesn't make any sense, does it? Why would a loving god do this?

To explain it, you have to come up with some sort of very strange excuse for God. Like, "God wants these children to suffer and die for some divine, mysterious reason." Then you push it out of your mind because it absolutely does not fit with your view of a loving, caring God.

This is the theodicy problem applied to a particular situation. The "divine, mysterious reason," as we'll see below, is quite well documented. However, one might as well ask, "Why is there ____ kind of suffering in the world" filling in the blank with whatever comes to mind. The short answer is "sin." Prior to sin, when people had not rebelled against God, there was no suffering. People are starving because they rebelled against God. In other words, God has provided for them, but sin has driven away that which he has provided. The suffering is caused by man, not God.

Why is there so much suffering? Why couldn't we be given a simple, "Yes/No" option and then be punted off to heaven or hell just like that? We were given that option. We all chose "No." Therefore, we should all be in hell--we should all be eternally separated from God. Since God is the definition of good, we should all be eternally separated from all goodness. One may argue that there is no good in the lives of the starving children in the example above. It is, however, a more apt description of what hell is like, for if life on earth can be that bad, or worse, a category into which I would place the victims of Unit 731, what then must hell be like? Returning to the question at the beginning of this paragraph, why is there so much suffering? Suffering is God giving us a small taste of what being eternally separated from Him is like; suffering is in itself an act of mercy.

Why would God be worried about you getting a raise, while at the same time ignoring the prayers of these desperate, innocent little children?

First, the easy part. The word "innocent" is entirely incorrect. In a verse which is typically cited with regards to the abortion controversy, Psalm 51:5 states "
5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." Or again in Romans 3:10-12: "There is no one righteous, not even one; 11there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." Between these verses, the exclusion of anyone doing good, we can safely eliminate children as being innocent, and if we take the verse from Psalms literally, sin exists prior to conscious thought. Given the number of miscarriages, and that fetuses still suffer, we can be certain that infants, even at extremely young ages before birth, are suffering the consequences of sin, i.e., suffering and death, and are therefore sinful.

Second, does God ignore their suffering and pay attention to ours? God pays attention to all suffering, as is illustrated by Matthew 10:29-31: "29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." God even pays attention to that which all but the newly balding ignore. If, as we saw above, suffering is merciful, the question becomes, why does God seemingly show more mercy to some than to others?

In Matthew 5:45 Christ says, "He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (By the way, as a people practicing rain-fed agriculture, rain was considered a blessing.) In Matthew 20:15 Christ also says, "15Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?" Are we then envious because God is generous? Horrific as it is, the millions of starving children are living in astounding blessing--God has not let them, or us, withdraw completely from him, as we wished to, and as we still may when they are judged.

So why are there so many starving people in the world? They are starving because God is merciful. Were He not merciful, he would have let us suffer the full consequences of our choice immediately--He would have done what justice demands.

Back to the Ten Questions



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