All of us want to be free.
We want to be able to make our own choices about how we live and what we do, where we live and who governs us.
The opposite of this is total control and domination. No choice. Everything decided for us, everything done for us. Imposed on us from outside.
This, we know, is not good.
There is something inside of us which understands this instinctively.
We fight against regimes like this.
They do not last. Eventually, they all fall.
Because to be human is to desire freedom – and eventually freedom wins out.
However, although there are many benefits and blessings from freedom, there is also a risk which comes with it.
The risk of freedom is suffering.
If we are to be truly free, we must also take the risk that things will not go as we desire. That things may go wrong. That we may suffer.
That is true freedom.
In creating us then, God knew that in order for us to be truly free, there had to be the possibility of suffering inbuilt in the universe.
If God did not create us with the possibility of suffering, then He would not have given us true freedom.
If choosing to suffer or to make others suffer is not an option, then we don’t have freedom. If the choice to reject the way of God – and so as a consequence to suffer – was not given to us, then we would not ever be truly free.
God did not directly create suffering. But He did create the possibility of suffering.
He had to.
It is His nature.
If God did not create the potential for suffering, then He did not create us truly free.
If God does not create us with the potential for the worst possible suffering, then He cannot be perfectly loving.
Only a perfectly loving God creates a people with the potential to cause great suffering.
A Good Parent or a Dictator?
God is our Father. Now any good parent wants their child to succeed, to grow, to learn, to be free to become who they can be. To be a mature adult. A good parent, at one level, allows their children to make their own choices.
A good parent allows their child to make mistakes, all the time being there to pick them up if they do so. They are right behind them, ready to help them learn the lessons from their mistakes so they don’t repeat them.
A parent who simply dictates to their child and never lets them make their own choices is not a loving parent. They are a dictator.
In the same way, if God creates a universe and a people without the potential for suffering, then He is a dictator. Then He simply imposes His way upon people ruthlessly and they are never allowed think for themselves. Never permitted to make their own decisions.
They never know the difference – just like the child under a dictator parent doesn’t know any different – but that doesn’t change the fact that a god like that is a dictator, and that those people are not free.
The question is often asked, ‘How does a loving God allow suffering?’
But truth is, a truly loving God has to risk suffering in order for those He creates to be truly free.
That freedom however, although it brings the chance of suffering, also allows for the opportunity for greater good. For incredible acts of love and sacrifice. For the possibility of doing greater things in the cause of God than we could or would ever do otherwise.
When God created, He may not have desired that we suffer. That may not have been His ideal design and plan for us.
But He knew that He had to create us with the potential for evil. He had to create a universe with the potential for suffering. Even more so, He was compelled to do so.
As hard as that is for us to accept, that is the harsh reality. If God is love, then He had to create us with the freedom to choose to suffer, to reject Him – a choice which hurts him as much as it does us. If He didn’t give us that freedom, He’d merely have been a dictator. He couldn’t be God.
For perfect love means freedom.
Even freedom to inflict or create great suffering.
But also freedom to choose the greatest good.
What do you think?
Do you agree that God has to allow the chance of suffering to be perfectly loving?
Do you believe a loving God can allow suffering?
How does that square with your experience of suffering?
James Prescott is a writer & creative exploring digital media & divine journey of life. He blogs regularly at James Prescott.co.uk & is a regular guest blogger at bigbible.org.uk and other sites. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.