Why Pain and Suffering if God is Perfect?

 

Why does God allow all the evil in the world?  (Isaiah 45:7) 

Why all the pain and suffering?  None of the great thinkers of the ages have come up with the answers to these questions. C.S. Lewis, after going through his own apostasy from Christianity, may have come the closest — becoming one of Christianity’s most avid advocates.

As Lewis considered the Christ, he concluded that

only two views of this man are possible. Either he was a raving lunatic of an unusually abominable type, or else He was, and is, precisely what He said. There is no middle way. If the records make the first hypothesis unacceptable, you must submit to the second. And if you do that, all else that is claimed by Christians becomes credible — that this Man, having been killed, was yet alive, and that His death, in some manner incomprehensible to human thought, has effected a real change. . . in our favour.1

After gaining his deep appreciation for Christianity, in regard to evil, pain, and the suffering that come with life, Lewis poignantly states that if you “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free wills involve, . . .you find that you have excluded life itself.”1

 

Albert Schweitzer — considered by some to be the greatest humanitarian and one of the greatest thinkers of the last century

— was a devout student of the teachings of Jesus. He mastered philosophy, music, theology, and medicine, and became the world’s authority on Bach’s timeless organ music, and he also could build an organ. His great intellect and all his learning led him to “Reverence for Life,” all life. He built a hospital in Africa to relieve the suffering there and had great success in doing so. He dealt with both world wars and wrote much. In 1945-1950 he was considered the greatest man in the world. He won the Nobel peace prize. He had and is still having a great influence on the world’s thinking.

In all of his 80 years of learning, Dr. Schweitzer could not answer the “great questions: What is the meaning of evil in the world? …In what relation do the spiritual life and the material life stand to one another? And in what way is our existence transitory and yet eternal?”2  He left these questions unanswered, but knowing of God’s love he focused his life on loving by relieving the sufferings of others.

 

Thank you, Lord, for the Restoration

One of the great validations of the truths of the restoration of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith is that it answers not only the above questions but also several other challenging questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? What is our purpose in life? Where do we go after death? None of the great thinkers, including Lewis, give in-depth answers to these questions, which are gloriously now available to us through the latter-day restoration in this last dispensation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the dispensation of the fullness of times.   In studying the restoration, we find why a loving Heavenly Father allows evil is agency (free choice), just like Lewis implied, and free choice would be empty if there were not opposing elements from which to choose.

Opposition is a necessary part of the perfect plan of happiness.  If we did not know the evil, we could not  know the good.  The Lord knew we had to  experience these things in order to arrive at a fullness of joy in His kingdom.  He provided the infinite atonement so that all the bad could be overcome by good in due process and in His infinite wisdom.   We often want pain to go away now, but He knows we can learn valuable lessons i our suffering — especially if we look to and trust in Him.

Chapter 2 of II Nephi gives an excellent explanation of why opposition and the importance of using our free choice to follow our Savior, and Chapter 2 of my book answers these questions, but on a more scientific basis, while tying it together with the beautiful truths of the restoration.

Free Choice” is at the Heart of the Plan of Happiness

Our right to choose is at the heart of His perfect plan of happiness for His children. One of the grand ironies of the plan is that He brings perfection out of imperfection, a fullness of joy out of the deepest of sufferings, pain, and despair and all through His Son’s infinite atonement. Ironically, we can become totally free only when we voluntarily give our will to Him. “Thy will be done;” represented the perfect life of the Savior. We each have a mission that is designed for our eternal best good. He knows it and we don’t, but by asking in faith, we can find that direction in our lives that will be most fruitful and enjoyable here and in Eternity.

Complaining Brings Negative Energy

Rather than complaining about our pain, sufferings, the evils, and the injustices in life, we should thank the Lord for them and ask what lessons we can learn from them.  We not only signed up for them for that which would be for our best benefit, but we “shouted for joy”3 as we looked forward to our earth life – knowing it is the path to a fullness of joy in the life to come if we are true and faithful in following our Savior on the path to Eternal Life.  He only is the way the truth and the life.4

If their were no opposition, there would be no life!

Opposition makes us stronger and is essential to the plan of happiness all the way to perfection through the infinite and all-encompassing atonement of our loving Lord and Savior.  He has overcome all things and will help us overcome all of our challenges as we come unto Him.

An Attitude of Gratitude Makes All the Difference.

Thanking the Lord in all things and expressing gratitude opens the windows of heaven to personal revelation and to knowing our path is pleasing to the Lord.  This attitude of gratitude is a major part of the path to a fullness of joy in the life to come, as well as helping us enjoy the journey here and now.  Happiness is a choice.  “Adam fell that man might be, and men are that they might have joy.”5 Hearkening to the voice of our Lord and Savior is a choice.  In so doing, we are guaranteed Eternal Life – life with God and life like God.  Can we imagine a more perfect plan?  Thank you, Lord, for thine infinite mercies in the midst of our challenges, and that Thou hast given us commandments as opportunities for exaltation and the abundant life here.6  What a great hope we have in the atonement – to become perfect “without spot” and receive a fullness of joy because of Thy love and grace.7  How Great Thou Art!

References:

  1. CS. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, pp 13-14
  2. Albert Schweitzer, Out of My Life and Thought
  3. Job 38:7
  4. John 14:6
  5. 2 Nephi 2:25
  6. John 10:10
  7. Moroni 10:32-33; Moroni summarized the message of the Book of Mormon in these verses.