How Much Suffering Is Fair?
God restrains suffering through our limited life spans—people don’t endure eons, millennia, or centuries of suffering, but only decades, years, months, weeks, days, and hours. Take the total number of years you believe human life has existed. Now, ask yourself what portion of that time any one human being has suffered.
Suppose God permitted evil and suffering, yet limited them to one ghastly year of human history. Would we consider that duration of evil and suffering acceptable? What about one month? If someone could prove that we would become greater and happier beings for all eternity as a result, would you think it right for God to allow ten seconds of intense suffering? Likely you would.
Once we make that admission, do you see where it puts us? If we could justify ten seconds, then why not ten hours, ten days, or ten years? And in eternity, as we look back, how much longer will ninety years seem than ninety minutes?
Who holds the record for suffering among all human beings alive today? As I write, the oldest person in the world is 114 years old. She hasn’t suffered her whole life. But suppose she suffered significantly for a century. Most people, obviously, will endure much less. Some suffer severely for five days, weeks, months, or years; some, perhaps, for fifty years. However, no one in this world suffers for 10,000, 1,000, or even 130 years.
To say God takes too long to bring final judgment on evil and suffering imposes an artificial timetable on someone time cannot contain. God’s Son entered time in his incarnation.
Though he understands our impatience, he won’t yield to it—and one day we’ll be grateful that he didn’t.
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