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Why is there so much suffering in the world?


This time rip-offs from Mike Reeves, Tim Keller and Alex Banfield-Hicks.

Go to for all the talks from the three evenings.


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8 thoughts on “Why is there so much suffering in the world?

  1. fruitofhisdeath

    There is so much suffering in the world because of the active suppression of knowledge of God, in Christ's death on the cross (a.k.a., the "tree of life"), by the religions of the world (mainly Christiantiy)!

  2. John B

    Wonderful talk! With lots of great content packed into just 25 minutes! I love the Chesterton reference, which speaks to the heart of the question. I'm saving this talk to refer it to others, as this question comes up so often. (I was disappointed to learn that living here in the USA I'm about as far away from the "greatest country on earth" as I could possibly be. The UN Human Development Index lists us as #4, which is very good. International Living has us a bit lower on its list, but grants that we are the land of convenience, though they think that convenience is overrated.)

  3. Iain Strachan

    I enjoyed your talk, but have a question, relating to serious questions my daughter (21) is asking, being unsure what she believes. I have so far not been able to give much of a convincing answer. The question is essentially a repost of a comment I originally put on Facebook, but then I found your blog:

    Some really good stuff about Jesus as the God who embraces suffering - I have long thought that Christianity is the only religion that makes any sense at all over the question of suffering because of God as the "Suffering servant". However, in the bit where he describes Jesus as showing us what God is really like - not coming down and saying "heal .. heal .. heal ... cancer!" etc, I was thinking that this seems just what the Old Testament God is like - there are many harsh judgements in the Old Testament, balanced with hope and light admittedly, but nonetheless the OT God is one who definitely punishes people brutally for their wrongs, jealous and vengeful. These are the types of question my daughter (aged 21) is asking - why did God kill all the firstborn in Egypt? That clearly contradicts the picture of Jesus we have. I would be interested to hear what you have to say about this - I don't think one can just ignore it and say - "well look at Jesus - that's what God's really like" without some explanation of what Dawkins calls the "capriciously malevolent bully" of the OT.

    [An extra thought I've been having, probably heretical (!) is that possibly the harsh judgements in the prophets are what WE want God to be like in acting against our enemies. I have been reading recently the book of Jonah - a book not so much of prophecy but about a prophet. When the people of Nineveh repent wholesale, Jonah is extremely fed up and goes into a huge sulk. It is clear that he would have gained satisfaction to see the prophesied doom take place, but it seems God is different from that. But Jonah's reaction is a very human - we want to see bad people (e.g. Sadaam, Gadaafi, Bin Laden) get their come-uppance, and rejoice when it happens].

  4. Glen

    Thanks John B, #4 eh? Not even on the podium. Tsk, tsk!

    Hello Ian, welcome to the blog.

    I think the judgements on Egypt are a good example of what God does in judgement. Pharaoh continually "strengthens" (or "hardens") his heart against the LORD and the LORD continually confirms that resolve. God hands people over to their desires (Rom 1:24,26,28). In the end it's like watching a train wreck in slow motion with the wicked hurtling towards their doom. There are opportunities for shelter from the coming judgement (e.g. Ex 9:20-21, and most famously - sheltering under the blood of the lamb), but the kingdom of darkness is judged comprehensively.

    In just the same way the Father has pronounced an unchanging "No" to the kingdom of Adam. It's been condemned already. Man wanted freedom *from* the Light and so God gave them the darkness because that's the only alternative. But God is not committed to making the darkness comfortable. That would be the worst thing He could possibly do. There is no life, no light, no hope in the kingdom of darkness. There's nothing to cling onto there. And it is a severe mercy that this is the case. This is not God being a "capricious and malevolent bully". This is God pronouncing judgement on this realm and there's no going back on it. Hope can only be found in Christ. It's a severe mercy, but it is mercy.

    In Christ, God enters into this realm to take all judgement on Himself and to exhaust it. We can't handle the darkness, but Jesus can and does. And He rises up again new to offer a new humanity, a new hope, a new world - beyond judgement.

    I'm not above the Sadaam's, Gadafi's and Bin Laden's of this world. I'm in the pit with them. And God sees no future in that way of life. But *Christ* enters in and then rises above this doomed humanity. And He offers our only hope.

    We always want God to do a tiny patch-up job of the old creation and to rid it of this particular suffering, and these particular baddies. God is committed to a root and branch rennovation. And in Jesus He shows how he can end all evil without ending *us*. *We* are a part of this wicked world, but Jesus shows us God's heart. He takes our plight to Himself, suffers its fate and rises to new life. That is *God's* intention for the world. And *both* His judgement upon the darkness *and* His salvation in Christ are part of the one work to which He's committed - Fixing the mess we've gotten ourselves into and offering hope to the whole world.

    Happy to keep talking,

    God bless,

  5. David

    I was talking about the hardening of pharaoh's heart with the wife recently, and I was thinking too that it somehow links in with God giving people over to their desires. It's not as if pharaoh was a godly man who God just decided to make an example of for the Jews sake; his life had been consistently lived in opposition to the purposes of God and so God's hardening of his heart is entirely in keeping with the trajectory he had himself set out upon. In this sense, God's sovereignty in the world acts as a kind of guarantee to human freedom rather than undermining it. It reminds me of the saying, 'the doors of hell are locked from the inside.'

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