Is God helping you by letting you suffer?


I have recently started reading The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. This book is essentially about what the title suggests, an argument for God.

I came across an interesting argument when reading a section about “How Could a Good God allow Suffering.” This argument largely falls back on the fact that the suffering in this life will make the happiness experienced in an afterlife all the more better.

“Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.” Oh dear. Lets continue with another quote..“Embracing the Christian doctrines of the Cross brings profound consolation in the face of suffering.”

Now to really think about this idea rationally. What if this idea was actually implemented as a maxim in society? If experiencing suffering is how experiences can be elevated to a greater level what does this say about how we should treat our fellow humans? Should parents starve their child in order to elevate the experience of eating? Should a parent torture a child in order to make them truly appreciate the moments when they are safe? I hope that you can see that this practice of suffering to elevate experience is most definitely an immoral practice that would never be seen as an acceptable practice in society or hold up in court.

Even if God was somehow justified in allowing this sort of suffering, what about the people who forfeit their salvation as a result of their suffering? Where is the elevation of experience for them?

I call bullshit.



  13 comments for “Is God helping you by letting you suffer?

  1. April 16, 2014 at 5:02 am

    What do you mean here by suffering? Are you including general hardship? It may be helpful to distinguish what should be counted as suffering.

    Moreover, you seem to discuss God as two persons — the first as the God who controls everything (thus ‘allows’ the suffering) and the second as the God incapable of foresight and omniscience (equating God’s judgment ability to that of a human). This seems to be a dichotomy which I cannot immediately reconcile and leaves me desiring a more careful examination of the issue.

    • April 16, 2014 at 5:07 am

      Suffering in this case would encompass any general strife that one goes through. One can define the word how one would like, but the issue is that God allows hardship and some try to justify God’s lack of intervention by saying that it elevates one’s experience.

      • April 16, 2014 at 5:15 am

        How often do we find the becoming greater than the being or the anticipation greater than the event.

        It is through times of hardship that we grow — our muscles are torn and rebuilt and our minds are continuously challenged with new ideas. We go through periods of struggle where we do not understand yet how much greater when we finally come to know it through discipline?

        On a purely practical level, at what point of hardship is God to save us if seemingly any strife counts? Where is free will in that picture?

      • April 16, 2014 at 5:23 am

        We do grow in times of hardship, but to say that an all powerful, all knowing God must allow hardships of any kind in order for us to grow implies that he is not all powerful to begin with. As for free-will, I suggest reading my other posts on how free-will can’t exist to begin with. I do agree that the topic is in need of further explanation though.

      • April 16, 2014 at 6:21 pm

        I would certainly not want to say what God must and mustn’t do — but it should seem plain enough logic to see that he can allow hardship and still be all powerful. Choosing not to act does not necessitate an inability to do so.

      • April 16, 2014 at 6:48 pm

        Of course choosing not to act doesn’t show a lack of ability to act, but defending God’s lack of action by saying it infringes upon the will of the person who didn’t even have a choice as to whether they received this “gift” of life/will in the first place seems nonsensical to say the least.

      • April 16, 2014 at 6:57 pm

        Imagine a hypothetical where Before God creates the human race he foresees all human actions and knows who will use their will for good and evil. If he is omnipotent why is it that he could not have simply taken the people who would use their free-will for evil (leading them to hell) out if existence? Is it infringing upon their will if he foresaw all their actions and simply intervened to save them from an eternity in hell by taking them out of an existence they never asked for? The point is that if I can imagine this hypothetical, then surely an all powerful God could do even better.

      • April 17, 2014 at 1:30 am

        So do you think that there is a God then?

      • April 17, 2014 at 1:33 am

        I do not. I am a former Catholic, turned atheist. I’m always glad to have open discussion on the matter, however.

      • April 17, 2014 at 1:36 am

        How then do you get to evil at all? Without God, where does your normative construction of morality come from?

      • April 17, 2014 at 1:42 am

        I don’t believe in an absolute morality. I believe all morality is subjective and essentially is derived through evolution and dependence on social constructs.

        Society would not be able to thrive if murder was allowed, therefore we form a subjective basis saying that it’s bad.

        One could argue that our conscious responds negatively towards murder because humans have an innate ability to project ourselves onto other people.

      • April 17, 2014 at 1:51 am

        Ah. I would disagree but would certainly need more than a comment to do so. At least you’ve held consistent beliefs from a purely logical perspective… Perhaps I’ll post a proper argument at some point.

      • April 17, 2014 at 1:54 am

        Logical consistency is of utmost importance to me haha. If you do post an argument I would be glad to read it though!

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