Chapter Five: The Problem of Evil and Suffering

My Problem With God Is…

Sunday, September 22

Why is there pain and suffering in the world? Why should we devote our lives to a God who allows children to suffer? How can I believe in a God who says he is all-loving, and yet he allows a world with rape, murder, disease, terrorism and natural disasters? Is God willing and able to stop this, yet doesn’t? Does the presence of evil then lead us to believe the nonexistence of God? You feel these questions, you don’t just think about them. The Bible faces these tough questions head on and provides the most glorious answers. Clark tackles these questions and gives some great background to how other religions such as New Age, Hinduism and Atheism attempt to address them. Clark also contends that the existence of evil and suffering actually reveals God to us rather than disproving him. He shares how many people succeed because of suffering, not in spite of it. He also suggests that “the reason we struggle with this concept of purposeful suffering today in the Western world is because we see the point and purpose of life as happiness.” We find hope and understanding in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Getting Started:

  1. How has the problem of evil and suffering affected your understanding of God? Is this an area that is difficult for you to wrap your arms around? What emotions are stirred up in you?
  2. Do you believe that both God and evil can co-exist? Do you believe that God is all-powerful and all-knowing? Explain in your own words how God can still be good if he allows evil in order to retain free will in the universe or if it allows a greater good in the future.
  3. What not to say – Can you think of phrases you need to stay away from while listening to someone’s personal story of suffering? What to say – What are some phrases that would be more helpful as it relates to God?
  4. Has there been a time in your own life where you questioned the existence or goodness of God due to suffering you’ve experienced? How have you reconciled the two?

Going Deeper:

  1. You may believe that the allowance of some evil may lead to something good. Is there such thing as pointless evil where no good is ever comes from it? How do you reconcile that with the phrase “some of the greatest lessons we learn in life come through suffering”?
  2. As Americans often strive for a life of happiness, how does this feed into the belief that God is nonexistent or not caring if suffering exists? Do you believe other nations look at suffering differently? Why?
  3. On pg. 123, Clark writes, “The New Testament writers tell us that, yes, our need of saving was the occasion for God’s suffering on the cross, but not its only reason.” Do you believe God’s suffering tells us something more about God than just his desire to save us?