IMAGINE that you have a friend whom you admire greatly, but he does something that you cannot understand. Others criticize his action and judge his motives, saying that your friend is cruel. Would you be quick to agree with them, or would you wait to hear your friend’s side of the story? If he was not there to explain himself, would you be patient, giving him the benefit of the doubt?
Before answering, you might want to know more. You might ask, ‘How well do I really know this friend, and what basis do I have for admiring him?’ Fair enough. But consider: Can we not apply the same principles to this question of whether God is cruel?
You may find it hard to understand some of what God has done, or you might be puzzled by what he has allowed to happen. There are plenty of people who will tell you that God is cruel and who will urge you to judge his motives as they have. Will you extend him the benefit of the doubt until you know more? The answer may depend on how well you know God. Ask yourself, ‘What kind of a friend has God been to me?’
If your life has been difficult, you might be tempted to say that God has not been a friend at all. But think for a moment. Has God been responsible for the hardships in your life—or for the blessings? As we have seen, Satan is “the ruler of this world,” not Jehovah. (John 12:31) It is thus Satan who is behind much of the misery and injustice of this world. And would you not agree that our own imperfections and unpredictable circumstances cause many of our problems?
Has God been responsible for the hardships in your life—or for the blessings?
On the other hand, what has God been responsible for? Consider what the Bible says: that God is “the Maker of heaven and earth”; that his works include our physical bodies, which are “wonderfully made”; and that Jehovah is “the God in whose hand your breath is.” (Psalm 124:8; 139:14; Daniel 5:23) What does all of that mean?
It means that we owe our every breath, our very existence, to our Creator. (Acts 17:28) It means that the gift of life, the beauty of the world around us, the pleasures of love and friendship, the joys of taste, touch, sound, and smell—all of these are gifts from God. (James 1:17) Would you not agree that those blessings make him a Friend who is worthy of our esteem and trust?
Granted, you may find it hard to trust God. Perhaps you feel that you do not yet know him well enough to trust him. And that is understandable. In these brief articles, we cannot address all the reasons why some judge God as cruel. But would it not be worth the effort to get to know God better?* We are confident that as you do, you will come to know the truth about God. Is he cruel? Quite the opposite: “God is love.”—1 John 4:8.
For example, find more information on why God allows wickedness in chapter 11 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.