First, while they do have some success in providing relief, they find many of the underlying causes too difficult to solve. The repeated failures of the various United Nations organisations demonstrate this.
Secondly, the solution of one problem often creates another, and regularly a new crisis arises. For example: Wonderful strides have been made in medicine and great is the sense of triumph that devastating illnesses are being brought under control. However, in recent years a number of these infections have re-appeared in drug-resistant strains, and diseases never previously known have come to light. In raising life expectancy, over-population problems have been increased. Also, as the proportion of the elderly in the population increases, new social dilemmas arise. Without God, man is in a “no win” situation.
Humanity is powerless to solve its most basic problems.
The Unfair Distribution of Suffering.
As is very obvious, suffering does not come alike to all.
The Bible acknowledges this.
“One man dies full of vigour, completely secure and at ease………….. Another man dies in bitterness of soul, having never enjoyed anything good”
Note the finality. “Side by side they lie in the dust.” Job 21:23-26
When Jesus was in Jerusalem this question was raised with him. A building had collapsed. He said
“Those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – Do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, No! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” Luke 13:4
The Psalmist wrestled with this problem.
“I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a green tree in its native soil but he soon passed away and was no more…
Consider the blameless, observe the upright:
there is a future for the man of peace.” Psalm 37:35-37
The lesson is plain. There are only two alternatives for any of us – God’s gift of eternal life, or oblivion. All of us have sinned by disobeying God’s commands, and so we deserve nothing but death. It is presumptuous to be asking “Why do I suffer?” It would be more appropriate if our question was “Why don’t I suffer more?” Part of God’s mercy to us, is that He sends pain to encourage us to stop and think; to realise our need and seek Him.
“God is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
A wealthy person in good health, may feel secure and powerful, but let disaster or pain strike them or their loved ones, and immediately their helplessness becomes apparent. Death reduces a man to nothing. Suffering provides him with opportunity to turn to God before it is too late. A place in the Kingdom of God is infinitely better than the best that anyone experiences today.
If everything was comfortable on earth, we would have no reason to pray
“Your Kingdom come…” Matthew 6:10
and no reason to look beyond the confines of our little lives.
God created the universe to run on the law of cause and effect. Natural disasters, disease organisms or genetic disorders that are all part of His curse upon humankind, cannot effect all alike. Human exploitation and tyranny crush the weakest. Some do suffer much more than others.
God will not remove the effects of wickedness, and thus allow rebellion against Him to flourish unchecked. If God removed the evils that are the result of sin, and thus all suffering, He would be relinquishing control to the beings He has made. Men could do what they wanted unchecked. This is unthinkable. But God is part way through His great purpose of ridding the world of sin for ever.