One of the most common questions I get asked is, “Why is there death and suffering?” Believers and unbelievers alike look around the world and see all the death, suffering, disease, and pain and question the existence of a good God as the Creator of such a world. This question can only be answered if we correctly understand the origin of death and suffering as given in Genesis.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby recently revealed that he has moments when “he struggles with doubt about the existence of God.” What causes the Archbishop to doubt God’s existence? The question of death and suffering! He claims that “Christians [do] not have the answer to why God allows suffering.” Perhaps the reason that Archbishop Welby doesn’t have an answer to the question of death and suffering is because he doesn’t accept the answer provided in Genesis. Earlier this year, during a radio call-in, he was asked, “Does the Archbishop seriously believe that after around three and a half billion years of evolution, including over two million years of the evolution of the human species, God chose to reveal the truth of his existence in the afterlife to a small tribe of semi-literate shepherds around 4,000 years ago?” The Archbishop simply replied “yes,” which seems to show that he has compromised God’s Word with evolution.
Now if you believe that God used millions of years of death, suffering, disease, and extinction to bring about life on earth, then, of course, you don’t have an answer to the question of death and suffering—except to say it must be God! However, this is clearly contrary to what Scripture teaches—man rebelled against God. Death is the punishment for man’s sin: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). God’s original creation was perfect: “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Death and suffering were not a part of God’s original “very good”design. They entered creation when Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator. Death and suffering are not God’s fault—they are the fault of our sin!
The Archbishop went on to make a confusing statement, “We know about Jesus, we can’t explain all the questions in the world, we can’t explain about suffering, we can’t explain loads of things but we know about Jesus. We can talk about Jesus—I always do that because most of the other questions I can’t answer.” What does he mean by “we can’t explain about suffering . . . but we know about Jesus.” What is it about Jesus that we know? The only way to understand Jesus is as the Creator (Colossians 1:16) who stepped into history to take the penalty of death, which we justly earned in Adam, upon Himself when He died on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:21). His resurrection defeated death (2 Timothy 1:10), and now He offers a free gift of salvation to all who will believe (John 3:16). Jesus came as the Last Adam to deal with the death and sin introduced by the first Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). The only way to understand Jesus is in light of Genesis! In fact, the first time the message of the gospel—the message of a Savior—is preached is in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
It is sad that this church leader doesn’t have an answer to the question of death and suffering. But there is an answer if you take God at His Word—beginning in Genesis! It is all our fault because of our sin. But the good news is that God sent His Son to take the penalty that we deserve upon Himself so that we might receive eternal life. God wants to rescue us (in Jesus) from the consequences of our sin.
I encourage you to learn more about the question of death and suffering by reading the article “Why Does God’s Creation Include Death and Suffering?” and my book How Could a Loving God. . . ? You can freely read the book online or order a copy of this powerful resource here.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.