If God is good why does he allow suffering?
Certainly suffering in one form or another is a stark and ever present reality in all our lives. If Heaven and life immortal are so wonderful then why do we first have to develop inside these pain-wracked bodies that are so sensitive to the rough seas of our human senses and emotions. It must be that we cannot become that which God wants us to become by any other means; or we cannot become that something by a 'manufactured' means.
Does this mean therefore that God is not omnipotent after all and that there are limitations to His power? The answer to that must be both yes and no. It would seem that He wants people to come to Him of their own free will and so for that to happen He must voluntarily surrender some of His omnipotence or at least lay it aside for a time. Again it seems there can be by Him neither compulsion nor coercion. He cannot be a God of opportunity who interferes whenever things are not going in exactly the way He would like them to. If He desires creatures that come to Him because they want to then He must in no way interfere with their development in a compelling or dictatorial manner.
The corollary to that is if we must inhabit fleshly bodies that are capable of developing then those self same bodies need to inhabit an environment that will test and stretch them as well as presenting opportunities for their growth. The environment in which they live must itself be capable of exploiting and being exploited in order that its inhabitants might have choice; for if we inhabited a scenario where exploitation could not possibly take place then we could take no credit for not being exploitative. If free will is to be exercised then there must be alternatives available: for example, if a desire for goodness is to be tested then the potential for wrongdoing must exist. If wrongdoing could not exist then goodness would have no merit, for how could we be anything else?
Is God therefore responsible for the wrongdoing in the world? Again the answer must be both yes and no. God allowed badness to enter the scheme of things when He gave His creation the freewill to develop as they pleased. He knew the dangers but because there was and is no alternative He accepts them. It is no good our blaming God for the wickedness in the world as it has all come about due to the fact that the creatures who inhabit it can only come into being through the evolution of species. Evolution, unfortunately, by its very nature must be what we term cruel and exploitative as it depends for it continuation upon the element of chance combined with survival of the fittest. A biological organism can only develop in a dynamic environment and that is perhaps best illustrated by the proven belief of many sportsmen that there is no gain without pain.
Christ showed us that we now have, with His help, the spiritual wherewithal to overcome, at least in part, our basic natures if we so desire and to that end He showed us the way by His own selfless existence. If our ultimate aim is to live forever in timelessness with God then we have no choice but to realise the limited value of our present surroundings. All the clatter we place so much value on, such as status, class, cars, houses, health, clothes, jobs, clubs, organisations, music, television and even the environment will, when we shed them at death, drop away like snake-skins that we have outgrown.
Then the real inner core of our being will stand naked and exposed to the dazzling radiance of the Eternal Light.
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