The human experience is riddled with instances of hardship, trauma, turmoil, pain, and suffering. With very few exceptions, these ultimately will intrude on everyone’s life. However, despite this undeniable record, as individuals we seem to live as if we believe we can beat the odds. Rather than accepting these challenges as part of life, we assume they are the exception. This itself teaches us much about the love of God and the atheists’ problem of evil. After all, pointing out pain and suffering as an interruption into normal life automatically establishes that the preponderance of experiences people have in life is positive. That itself presents a problem for someone who believes his existence is a matter of dog eat dog survival of the fittest. However, for those who see the blessings of God in all the good we enjoy in life, the interruptions to goodness we face can present a different challenge.
Sadly, many people blame God for their problems while seeming oblivious to their blessings. However, even some Christians can let hard times turn against God, allowing their circumstances to dictate their faith. James addressed this unequivocally when he wrote, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (Jas. 1:13). God does not create problems for men, but He does not relieve them of all the problems they create for themselves. When we remember that the introduction of sin into this world, the various choices made by men over time, and even sometimes our own decisions, we will see that God is indeed just and fair. While the innocent do sometimes suffer, it is due to someone else’s decision (sometimes years previous) rather than God’s. Elihu recognized this principle when he told Job, “Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding: Far be it from God to do wickedness, And from the Almighty to commit iniquity. For He repays man according to his work, And makes man to find a reward according to his way” (Job 34:10-11).
Therefore, the problem actually comes down to man’s false expectation that God owes it to us to alleviate all of the pain and suffering that we might face in life. We can argue that we do not deserve it, and in many cases there would not be a direct cause and effect connection. But this brings up another question. Do we always suffer in accordance with our wrong behavior and guilt? The answer is a resounding “No!” We do not actually deserve life itself. We have done nothing to earn it. Once we sin, we do not deserve anything but punishment for that sin, but God’s mercy allows us to continue. So, the next time you are facing some kind of difficulty, make sure to put it into perspective. Do not blame God. To the contrary, trust God. After all, “Should He repay it according to your terms, Just because you disavow it? You must choose, and not I; Therefore speak what you know” (Job 34:33). God owes us nothing but has given us everything that is good (Jas. 1:17). Do we still face challenges in this life? Absolutely. However, we have the opportunity to face them with hope in eternity, and that is far more than we ever could come close to deserving.