There are many Christians who state and firmly believe that “God is good.” If God is good, why is there suffering in this world? If God is good, why can’t people live forever?
Many conclude that God does not exist specifically because there is suffering in this world. The Book of Job describes a man who had everything: a family, wealth, and health. Then his family died, his wealth disappeared, and his health declined. Yet through it all, he did not deny that God was in control.
Job 38 states the following: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Who determined its measurements? Who laid its cornerstone? Have you commanded the morning since your days began? Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you?
Many who claim that God does not exist (aka atheists) find value and meaning in hobbies, travel, leisure, and creativity. In their own way they find value in those things that reduce suffering, such as money and leisure.
Many atheists also claim that you do not have to be religious to be moral. To this I ask the following questions. What is right vs. wrong? What is just vs. unjust? What is moral vs. immoral? Many people live by a “code of behavior,” but what happens when two different codes conflict with each other? Whose code is just? If conflicting codes are allowed to coexist, how does one act and respond?
Proverbs 12 states the following: “A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of evil devices He condemns. The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright delivers them. The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand. Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel. Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense. Whoever is wicked covets the spoil of evildoers, but the root of the righteous bears fruit. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”
This last phrase is important to understand and the root cause of suffering. The fool does what is right in his own eyes. It is not enough to be “moral.” What is morality without a standard? What is living a good life if you do not know what a good life is? Do we just make it up as we go? Who decides what is right and what is wrong if two or more are in conflict? The short answer to this is that God does. Without God there is no standard of justice and no standard what is right versus what is wrong. Without God, we all do what is right in our own eyes, and view our own thoughts and feelings as more important than yours. As long as we place value in living by our own truths and our own standards, there will be conflict. And yes, there will be suffering. Suffering exists specifically because we place our wants and needs above others.
The answer is simple. Contentment is not about having enough money to go on a vacation to an exotic location. It is about placing more value in the lives of those around us than in our own. It is having a firm understanding that there is a singular source for goodness and righteousness, and that is God.
Written by: Michael Beaumont