Well-known actor, Stephen Fry, referred to God as “monstrous” in his television interview on the Irish program, “The Meaning of Life.” When asked what he would say to God if he faced him, Fry responded, “How dare you. How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that’s not our fault? It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”
The brief clip is worth watching here.
For examples of more celebs rejecting God, read here.
A Problem for Everyone
Suffering is a problem for every worldview, not just those who believe in God. For atheists, saying that human misery is just part of our cold and indifferent world is unsatisfying and empty. While some atheists respond: “Just get over it,” most people in every culture know we were made for more than this. Can the concepts of God, morality, meaning, love, and hope be merely secretions of our brains? If the universe is meaningless, how would we know? Where would the concept of meaning originate? If God really did exist, wouldn’t we expect these ideas to be present in us as they are?
What Should We Say?
Atheist writers sum up their argument in similar ways: “An omnibenevolent god would not willfully allow any sort of suffering if he could stop it,” says one.
“Any amount of evil, no matter how small, contradicts God being all-loving,” writes another.
But this cardboard cut-out God constructed by philosophers doesn’t exist.
The Christ-centered worldview does not disguise evil and suffering nor does it exonerate God from responsibility. From the Christ-centered perspective, complaining about evil and suffering is like complaining about labor and birth pains. They are real, agonizing and a part of what happens before the incredible joy of a new child.
I am not saying, as some do, that all pain has positive results. The amount of suffering that exists is far too gratuitous for that. I am reflecting what the Scriptures say about distress, misery and sorrow in our world. The very presence of evil and suffering tells us that something is wrong in the world. Like a toothache or a pain in the gut, something has gone awry.
And that’s the point. Good and evil are not equal and opposing forces, as in:
God vs. Satan,
Light vs. Darkness,
Yin vs. Yang,
Luke vs. Darth.
Evil and suffering are the result of willful rebellion against God. He did not create evil but created a world where evil was possible through free will. “The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves,” as Shakespeare says.
Evil is a parasite; good that has been twisted, perverted. It cannot exist on its own. Good, however, can exist alone. It is the base of all that is created (Genesis 1:31).
One day, as God promises, suffering and evil will be eradicated from our existence. Until then, we serve as ambassadors for God with the good news that Christ’s sacrifice has begun the process of reclaiming all existence: a new earth and a new heaven. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
Followers of Christ are sometimes accused of using false promises of future glory to distract from the reality of present suffering. But C. S. Lewis points out:
We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning Heaven. We are afraid of the jeer about ‘pie in the sky,’ and of being told that we are trying to ‘escape from the duty of making a happy world here and now into dreams of a happy world elsewhere.’ But either there is ‘pie in the sky’ or there is not. If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric. If there is, then this truth, like any other, must be faced, whether it is useful at political meetings or no.
The Christ-centered worldview says:
Yes – God is ultimately responsible for everything, including evil/suffering
Yes – From the human perspective God seems “monstrous”
Yes – There seems to be no reason, meaning or pattern to evil/suffering
Yes – Many people struggle trusting God because He does not intervene
Yes – It is OK to tell God how we feel about it (and Him)
Even followers of God pour out their hearts with complaints:
“How long, O Lord, will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1).
“My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me? . . . I cry out by day and you do not answer” (Psalm 22:1).
Looking Forward to the Beginning
Suffering has a definite cause and a definite end. That’s the whole point of God revealing to the world his character, will and plan.
Jesus himself did not gloss over human suffering, “In this world you will have tribulation . . .” (John 16:33). He promised peace, joy and reward for those who suffer deprivations in life: “Blessed are the poor in spirit . . .” (Matthew 5:3-12).
He said that he did not come into the world to condemn the world but to rescue it from the death-inducing consequences of sin. “Let not your heart be troubled,” Jesus told us. “I am preparing a place for you.”
I can’t wait.
But until then, we will suffer. It seems grotesquely unfair and unconscionable that children and other helpless ones suffer indiscriminately. And it seems as if God is deaf to their cries.
But he is not. He hears. It is more a question of timing than one of insufficient concern or power. But the time is coming.
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pain of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22).
We and all of creation are in anguish with the world as it is. We must hurt with those who hurt and work to relieve as much suffering as we can – following the example of Jesus.
What seems like too long to us (and even longer for those who suffer) will be a blip in light of eternity. Our Lord will bring about an incredible existence that we cannot imagine. What else will God create for our delight (for nowhere does it say he will not continue creating)? And those who have suffered will find their bodies, minds and spirits not merely healed, but recreated for eternity.
So one more time from C. S. Lewis, who came to the end of his Narnia stories with a parallel to what awaits us.
And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.