Some may find it difficult to have a meaningful relationship with God when they think about all the suffering God allows here on earth. Why doesn’t God at least interfere more in their suffering or the suffering of others? How we define God’s role in suffering can determine whether we experience God’s support or abandonment in tragic times. Sometimes, the emotional pain can be as challenging as the physical pain.
It is not logically possible for God to create freedom without the possibility of moral evil. God creating a perfect universe in the beginning cannot guarantee a perfect world will develop. God clearly values ongoing freedom because of all the suffering allowed in the world. Free will is surely understandable as terrorists only think controlling or destroying free, moral decisions results in true love. Are there plausible explanations as to why a loving God allows freedom?
Without freedom we could accuse God of not creating the very best world where only true, authentic relationships can develop. God’s interference may prevent a superior world from emerging as a result of the moral development and improvement of free creatures. Freedom allows human to develop qualities of moral character that cannot be created initially. Dependence on miracles or instant fixes doesn’t lead to moral progress. The guarantee of a pain free universe cannot involve freedom. I don’t know of any human parent who brings children into the world not desiring their children freely reciprocate their love as opposed to being forced.
If freedom and determinism are compatible, then a loving God could have created a world in which all persons freely did only good at all times. I would suggest not even God could have created a perfect being in the first place to not sin if allowed freedom, even though Adam and Eve were not impacted by previous sinful choices or negative influences. God respecting freedom requires certain actions by God. One option we have is to trust that the current world we live in with the presence of freedom is the very best world that can be created under the circumstances. God does not prevent, overwhelm, or destroy freedom.
God choosing to not interfere in suffering on earth may be the most compassionate. If I force my rebellious son somehow to do right presently, he may further rebel or stay away forever. If I am patience and allow time for possible moral development (time on earth), then he may freely choose to live with me forever in heaven. God didn’t create suffering so we have to build a healthy dependence on Him; God created freedom in the beginning because they love us.
Suffering is horrible and is often nonsensical. Why doesn’t God at least interfere in horrific atrocities such as the Holocaust? Job asked God why the righteous suffer so long and the wicked are allowed to prosper. Job finally admitted to God he wasn’t capable of overseeing a free world. Besides, where does God draw the line? One child sexually abused is horrific. Underserved suffering enables me to better help others heal from such injustices. Challenging and seeking to understand God may lead to trusting God can see the bigger picture.
There would be more evil if God didn’t remain in our lives to influence us. God can bring good from what was intended for bad if we will accept guidance. God risked creating, but we parents do the same knowing our children will experience suffering, because of the possibilities of joys that come from relationships. God didn’t abandon us. God came in person and faced undeserved suffering in hopes to influence all of what leads to a better world. God has stayed with us and can at least control the ending of our story. God can handle our questions as we consider assuming and trusting God created the very best world which of course included freedom.
*I am indebted to Kevin Timpe, Free Will in Philosophical Theology, for many thoughts above