I don’t know how long you have been working on your computer so far. If it is 30 minutes then you need to know that in those 30 minutes, 30 children have succumbed to malaria. This means that one child under the age of 5 dies every minute, according to a report by the World Health Organization.[1] UNICEF further claims that about 4,000 children die each day from water-borne diseases due to lack of clean drinking water.[2] Statistics released from the American Cancer Society indicated that 1,665, 540 new cases of cancer were projected for the year 2014 in the United States alone![3]

These statistics and many others pointing to gratuitous suffering and pain have reportedly made some to conclude that there is no God.

In his book, The Case For Faith, Lee Strobel writes that Charles Templeton, once a fellow evangelist with Dr. Billy Graham, told him in an interview that one reason he abandoned his faith in God and came to the conclusion that God does not exist was a photo he saw of an African woman cradling her dead child in her arms.[4] The child had died from the effects of a severe drought. Templeton concluded that if there was a God, he would not have withheld the much-needed rain that could have saved that child’s life.

Every time the issue of suffering and pain is raised as an objection against the existence of God, it is associated with a human being. This means that the objectors attach some intrinsic value to human beings. Their argument becomes a moral argument. But what is it that gives human beings intrinsic value? Isn’t it the fact that they are made in the image of God? Without God human beings would merely be products of matter animated by chemical reactions and electricity. So, why should it matter if they suffer?

Dr. Ravi Zacharias, a notable apologist, addresses this objection in his book, Can Man Live Without God? This is how he puts it: “If you argue from the existence of evil to the non-existence of God, you are assuming the existence of an absolute moral law in order for your argument to work out. But if there is such a law, then that would also mean that there is such a God, since he is the only One who could give us this law, then the argument itself is flawed, since you have had to assume the existence of God in order to argue that he doesn’t exist.”[5]

One wonders, if all the reasons for theodicy were to be given, would that suffice for the objectors? Would they finally acknowledge the existence of God? Ironically, people in places that have experienced terrible suffering and pain never once question the existence of God. On the contrary, they cling to their faith in God as to a life line.

It is true that pain and suffering are an enigma. But one way to know how God feels about suffering and pain is to look at the cross of Jesus Christ. Jill Carattini, managing editor of A Slice of Infinity from RZIM aptly observes that “On the cross, in the person of Christ, the problem of pain was God’s own, felt acutely, absorbed personally, endured as one person—and answering as many problems of pain as there are sorrowing creatures.”[6]

Sources

[1] World Health Organization. “Malaria: Fact Sheet No. 94.” 2014. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/

[2]UNICEF. “World Water Day 2005.” 2012. http://www.unicef.org/wash/index_25637.html

[3] American Cancer Society. “Cancer Facts & Figures 2014.” http://www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsstatistics/cancerfactsfigures2014/

[4] Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity (4th ed.) 2006. Zondervan Publishing House. Grand Rapids, MI.

[5] Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God? 1994. Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publisher.

[6] Jill Carattini (managing editor). Every Problem of Pain. RZIM. Atlanta. Georgia.

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