God’s aid is always palliative, remedial, and restorative. Depending on our past, it may also be transformative. Sometimes it is preventative.
God’s palliative aid helps us endure affliction. His remedial aid repairs the soulful damage caused by suffering. His restorative aid helps us adjust to our new normal. His transformative aid remakes us into a better person.
If we had our druthers, God’s aid would always be preventative. He would arrange our lives in such a way that we never suffered.
At the very least, he would noticeably diminish our distress when we do encounter affliction.
God protects us from suffering more than we realize, but as we know from experience, he does not prevent or minimize every affliction.
The general explanation for why God lets us suffer is incomplete and unsatisfactory from our earthly standpoint.
– God designed the world correctly. His blueprint did not include suffering. The world was entirely good at creation.
– Suffering is the manifestation of evil, a consequence of wrong choices that are based on moral untruth, i.e., a lie, deception, or distortion about something God has deemed morally true.
– Adam and Eve mistakenly believed they would be better off if they defined morality themselves, apart from God’s standard.
– Their wrong choice based on this moral untruth accounts for much of our suffering.
– The consequences of more recent wrong choices based on moral untruth, made by us and others, also contribute to our suffering.
– God lets us make these wrong choices even when he knows they will generate suffering because he respects our volitional freedom.
– God considers our will inviolate because we need it to make the most crucial decision in our earthly lifetime, the one that qualifies us for heaven, the choice to be reborn spiritually.
– God dislikes our suffering more than we do. He realizes it is the primary reason we distrust him. He tolerates it because the upside of our volitional freedom—eternal life with him in heaven—far outweighs the downside—our earthly afflictions and the doubts they raise about him.
This general understanding of suffering suffices when life is easy. But it seems sorely inadequate when life gets tough.
For many of us, God’s failure to proffer a more satisfactory explanation is a deal-breaker. We infer from his reticence that he is untrustworthy.
However, God has deemed his general explanation sufficient for us to trust him amid every affliction.
To demand that God fully account for our suffering before we trust him is to suggest that his current level of disclosure is inadequate, and his determination to the contrary is incorrect.
This demand implies that our judgment is better than his. If this were true, he would not be God. We would be God.
God knows we would like personalized answers to specific questions about our suffering.
However, the imprecision of his general disclosure is his way of asking us his own questions.
– Am I alone enough for you?
– Do you genuinely believe I am always good, my ways are always excellent, and my love is indeed unfailing?
– Are you willing to trust me with your affliction, without knowing all the reasons why I have allowed it, how long I may let it persist, or what I intend to accomplish through it?
God says that if we draw near to him during distress, we will recognize his excellence anew and answer these questions affirmatively.