The Problem of Pain

Updated: 15 Apr 2007

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The Problem of Pain

ABC TV's Compass program tonight (15th April 2007)

"No God But God", Part 2 of "The Story of God" by Lord Robert Winston (a venerated world expert in human fertility research, and an orthodox Jew).

He goes in search of the answer to the centuries old question: "If God created humanity, why does God allow humanity to suffer?"

The objection as commonly put:-

If God exists and is good, He would NOT want anyone to suffer.
If God exists and is strong, He could stop all suffering.
Suffering exists, therefore God is either bad, or weak, or does not exist.

How are we to attempt an answer to this?

Glib answers will not do in a world of such great suffering. E.g. the Holocaust of the Jews during the time of Hitler and the Nazis in WW2. 6 million Jews died (and 20 million Russians too). This is evil almost beyond comprehension.

We must attempt an answer with great humility, and with real compassion for present sufferers.

  1. Pain is not evil in its essence, not intrinsically bad
  2. Pain is the result of Human Wickedness - PARADISE LOST. God is not the author of needless pain
  3. Pain is not God's ultimate intention
  4. Pain was embraced by God - Jesus is the Ultimate Sufferer
  5. Pain will Cease - PARADISE RESTORED

The New Heaven and the New Earth Revelation 21:1 (ESV) "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."


  1. You will not make any sense of pain and suffering until you embrace by faith Jesus (the Jesus of the Bible), the Lord Christ. He is both the answer and the cure.
  2. The pain is real. so no glib answers - "weep with those who weep" Romans 12:15, as Jesus did at Lazarus' grave (John 11:33-39)
  3. "What about those who have never heard of Jesus?"

The various major faiths

of the world have different sorts of answers. Here is a brief summary.

Faith Why? What do you do?
Atheism It's a dog-eat-dog world, then you die Just get used to it
Hinduism Suffering is caused by the accumulated bad actions of our past lives (the principle of "karma") Avoid bad actions, do good ones
Buddhism Suffering is caused by desire - desire nothing (even to love and be loved) and you will not suffer Learn to live without desires, and strive to shed self and be merged into Nirvana, as one drop in the ocean
Islam Suffering is the result of our sins, or a test from God Confess your sins, trust in God
Judaism Suffering is the result of our sins, or a test from God Confess your sins, trust in God
"Health, Wealth and Prosperity Gospel" Suffering is caused by the Devil Cast out the demon of pain, or depression, etc. and claim the good things
The Bible Suffering is the result of Adam's fall, permitted by God for good in the end Confess any real (not imaginary) sins, trust in God, Who loves you, and has entered fully into suffering for you

Books I have found helpful in the past (and have probably influenced my thinking, though I did not have time for more than a quick browse when preparing these notes)

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