Ask Y:

Peter Meadows answers your questions about God.

Why is there so much suffering if God is all-powerful?

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For a start, we can't point the finger at God for 'everything'. For example, God doesn't cause wars or stir up hatred. And it is hardly God's fault that so much human suffering is allowed to continue. After all, the world spends $780 billion a year on its military. Yet a mere $8 billion could end world hunger.

Meanwhile we know how to put up buildings that can withstand an earthquake. And how to give an early warning of a tsunami. But often, for economic reasons, we don't put this God-given knowledge to work.

And millions of us fail to eat our veggies, fight the flab or control what reaches our intestines to the degree that the health that ought to be ours isn't. And then we look to God to sort out the mess we created.

Of course there's much more to it than that. Recently I heard of someone who 'gave up on God' because their brother drowned when he was nine. It left me asking myself if they expected God to make sure no one aged nine, anywhere, ever died. Because that unrealistic expectation was at the heart of what they were blaming God for.

Of course, an all powerful God could stop everyone, including you and me, from hurting anyone. But to do that He'd either have to make us robots, with no choice of our own; or snuff us out at the first sign of trouble – which would see the end of us for sure.

Which leaves us with the 'natural' disasters – that can take lives in their tens of thousands. The Bible's opening pages paint a picture of humanity in a beautiful garden in the midst of the whole of creation. With God declaring everything to be "good." That is the way God made things and intended them to be—for ever.

In such a world, nature would never misbehave and people would live the same way—with no grab and greed, no might is right, no me at the expense of you. But the humans chose to behave as though they were God and rebellion came into the world.

With a heart-tearing lurch, the whole of creation shook and splintered. Everything became spoilt—from human behavior to the balance of the environment. And it has remained that way ever since.

Will it stay that way? No. God promises there will one day be an end to it all. That we can look forward to a new heaven and earth, where there is no pain or sorrow. Where justice will rule. It is what He sent Jesus to make possible through His death on the cross. And what we can be part of even now if we choose to follow Him.

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