“Did God Create Man to Suffer?”
Question: There is no way God can be exonerated from the accusation that He is a sadistic fiend. He says He doesn’t want anyone to suffer, yet we do suffer both in this life and are warned that our suffering will be even worse in eternity. In fact, the suffering that God has planned for eternity is horrible beyond words. How can you say that a God who creates man to burn in the fires of an everlasting hell is good?
Response: God did not create man for such a fate, and when man by his own self-will rejects the salvation from that fate, which God so graciously offers, it grieves Him. The Bible clearly says that God is “not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter:3:9) but that He wants “all men to be saved” (1 Timothy:2:4).
The Bible tells us clearly that Christ paid the penalty for the sins of the whole world, even for the sins of those who reject Him: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world” (John:1:29); and again, “He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John:2:2).
We may rest assured that no one will suffer in hell who could by any means have been won to Christ in this life. God leaves no stone unturned to rescue all who would respond to the convicting and wooing of the Holy Spirit. Paul makes that clear: “For whom he did foreknow [would respond to the gospel]…them he also called [with the gospel]; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans:8:29,30). Let me try to illustrate.
Like a Fish Out of Water
A fish sees a man on the shore sitting on a chair with legs crossed, smoking a cigar, and holding a fishing pole. The fish decides that it is missing out on real life and determines to be like the man. It manages to jump out of the water, flips itself up on a chair, crosses its fins, and lights up a cigar. But before it can manage to grasp a fishing pole it runs out of oxygen and, its life expiring, falls from the chair and flops around in dirt and gravel, gills opening and closing rapidly in a vain attempt to pull oxygen from the air.
An atheist walking by exclaims in derision: “What kind of a God would create a fish to suffer like that?”
The obvious truth, of course, is that God never made the fish to suffer like that. He created fish to swim in exuberant freedom in rivers, lakes, and oceans. This horrible suffering, which is contrary to God’s will, came about because the fish rebelled against the purpose God had for it. Rebelling in his own way against God, man too is like a fish out of water.
God made man to swim in the ocean of His love and to enjoy the full life and freedom of expression of those who do God’s will. It would have been so beautiful, but man chose to rebel against God and to do his own thing. Human egos that have rebelled against God find themselves, as a consequence of their selfishness, in conflict with one another as well. What one self-willed person wants to do inevitably conflicts with what other self-willed persons want to do, bringing anger, jealousy, hatred, and all the evils that follow. But don’t blame God for this! He created all things in beauty and perfection. It is man who has perverted that perfection and is wreaking destruction upon God’s creation.