Why God Has Permitted Suffering
1, 2. How did our first parents spoil the fine start God gave them?
WHAT went wrong? What took place that spoiled the fine start God gave our first parents in the Paradise of Eden? Why, instead of the peace and harmony of Paradise, have wickedness and suffering prevailed for thousands of years?
2 The reason is that Adam and Eve misused their free will. They lost sight of the fact that they were not created to prosper apart from God and his laws. They decided to become independent of God, thinking that this would improve their lives. So they stepped outside the God-ordained limits of free will.—Genesis, chapter 3.
The Issue of Universal Sovereignty
3-5. Why did not God just destroy Adam and Eve and start over?
3 Why did God not just destroy Adam and Eve and start over with another human pair? Because his universal sovereignty, that is, his inalienable right to rule, had been challenged.
4 The question was: Who has the right to rule, and whose rule is right? His being almighty and the Creator of all creatures gives God the right to rule over them. Since he is all-wise, his rule is best for all creatures. But God’s rule had now been challenged. Also, was there something wrong with his creation—man? We will later examine how the question of human integrity is involved.
5 By man’s becoming independent of God, another question was implied: Could humans do better if not ruled by God? The Creator certainly knew the answer, but a sure way for humans to find out was to allow them the total freedom they wanted. They chose that course of their own free will, so God permitted it.
6, 7. Why has God allowed humans total freedom for so long?
6 By allowing humans enough time to experiment with total freedom, God would establish for all time whether humans are better off under God’s rule or on their own. And the time permitted would have to be long enough to allow humans to come to what they considered the peak of their political, industrial, scientific, and medical achievements.
7 Therefore, God has allowed man a free rein clear down to our day to show beyond any doubt whether human rule independent of him can succeed. Thus man has been able to choose between kindness and cruelty, between love and hate, between righteousness and unrighteousness. But he has also been confronted with the consequences of his choice: goodness and peace or wickedness and suffering.
Rebellion of Spirit Creatures
8, 9. (a) How did rebellion break out in the spirit realm? (b) Who besides Adam and Eve did Satan influence to rebel?
8 There is another factor to consider. Our original parents were not the only ones to rebel against God’s rule. But who else was in existence at the time? Spirit creatures. Before God created humans, he created a higher form of life, great numbers of angels, to live in the heavenly realm. They too were created with free will and also with the need to submit to God’s rule.—Job 38:7; Psalm 104:4; Revelation 5:11.
9 The Bible shows that rebellion first broke out in the spirit realm. A spirit creature wanted total freedom. He even wanted humans to worship him. (Matthew 4:8, 9) This spirit rebel became a factor in influencing Adam and Eve to rebel, claiming falsely that God was withholding something good from them. (Genesis 3:1-5) So he is called Devil (Slanderer) and Satan (Adversary). Later, he induced other spirit creatures to rebel. They became known as demons.—Deuteronomy 32:17; Revelation 12:9; 16:14.
10. What resulted from the rebellion of humans and spirit creatures?
10 Humans, by rebelling against God, gave themselves over to the influence of Satan and his demons. That is why the Bible calls Satan “the god of this system of things,” who “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” Hence, God’s Word says that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” Jesus himself called Satan “the ruler of this world.”—2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19; John 12:31.
11. Regarding what other issue did Satan challenge God?
11 Satan raised another issue that challenged God. In effect, he charged that God was mistaken in the way He created humans and that no one would want to do the right thing when put under pressure. In fact, he claimed that under test they would even curse God. (Job 2:1-5) In this way Satan called into question the integrity of the human creation.
12-14. How would time reveal the truth about the two issues Satan raised?
12 Therefore, God has permitted enough time for all intelligent creatures to see how this issue as well as the issue of God’s sovereignty would be resolved. (Compare Exodus 9:16.) The eventual experience of human history would reveal the truth about these two issues.
13 First of all, what would time reveal regarding the issue of universal sovereignty, the rightness of God’s rule? Could humans rule themselves better than God? Would any system of human rule apart from God usher in a happy world free from war, crime, and injustice? Would any eliminate poverty and provide prosperity for all? Would any conquer sickness, old age, and death? God’s rule was designed to do all of that.—Genesis 1:26-31.
14 Regarding the second issue, what would time reveal as to the worth of the human creation? Was it a mistake for God to have created humans the way he did? Would any of them do the right thing under test? Would any people show that they wanted God’s rule instead of independent human rule?
[Picture on page 13]
God has allowed time for humans to come to the peak of their achievements
Shuttle: Based on NASA photo