In Uganda poverty and suffering is rampant. UN statistics place 50% of the nation below the UN poverty level. One of the most asked questions is, “If God exists, why is there suffering and evil in the world?” William Lane Craig was asked this question at the University of Iowa. His response is quoted below. I have read it again and again and hope you find it as insightful as I did. I have emphasized in bold certain segments that were meaningful to me.
WL Craig’s answer:
“There are so many things one would like to say about this profound question (of evil and suffering). Let me just add a couple points. I think one of the reasons we tend to find the problem of suffering and evil in the world so intractable, is because we just sort of naturally assume that if God exists, then His purpose in life for us must be human happiness in this life. That God’s purpose is to make us happy. And the suffering and the gratuitous pain in this life don’t seem to contribute to that end.”
“But you see on a Christian world and life view that assumption is false. The purpose of life is not human happiness as such, but rather the knowledge of God, which in the end will lead to ultimate human fulfillment and happiness. And there are many evils and sufferings in this life, which I think are utterly gratuitous with respect to producing human happiness, but which may not be gratuitous with respect to producing a deeper knowledge of God either on the part of the sufferer or on the part of those around him.”
“And I strongly suspect that it may well be the case that only in a world involving a great deal of gratuitous natural and moral evil that the maximum number of people would come freely to a knowledge of God and His salvation. And I say this not simply by faith, but really on the empirical basis of the demographics of the world today. If you read around the world where the Gospel is increasing and multiplying at its most rapid rates, there is almost a 1:1 correlation with countries where intense suffering is occurring. And where the growth of the church is moribund, and the church is flabby and the growth rates are flat, is in the west where we are so comfortable and so content. But the countries like El Salvador, China, Ethiopia, countries in Africa – where the Gospel is growing at amazing rates – it is precisely in those countries where intense moral and natural suffering has occurred.”
“So I think that we constantly need to keep in mind that God’s purposes in life are much broader than what is merely conducive to our happiness. His ultimate purposes are to establish the Kingdom of God. And what we suffer should always be seen in light of that greater overarching purpose.”
“That leads me to a second comment that I want to make. That our suffering always needs to be seen, I believe, in light of the cross. Because God shows us in the cross that He is not a distant or grounded(?) Being or impersonal Creator who cooly sits by and watches us suffer. When people ask, when they go through intense suffering, ‘Where is God?’ then we ought to point them to the cross and say, ‘There is God.’ God is a God who enters into our world of suffering, and takes upon Himself the unimaginable suffering of bearing the penalty of the sins of the whole world, even though He was completely innocent. If anyone could complain of the problem of innocent suffering, it would have been Jesus of Nazareth. And though He was innocent, He took upon Himself the death penalty of sin that you and I deserved. And therefore seen in light of the cross the problem of evil takes on an entirely different perspective. When we see His suffering we now realize that the problem is not how God could justify Himself to us. The problem is how I, filled with wickedness and sin and morally guilty before God can be justified before Him. And I believe that when we look at the cross, we can say to ourselves as we go through times of suffering, ‘If God would go to that extent, if His love would carry Him to those depths for me, then surely out of my love for Him I can bear this burden that He has asked me to bear through this short life that I am enduring now.’ And I believe that this can give us the grace and strength to endure what God calls upon us to endure during this life.”
In Uganda, too often, the “answer” to life’s problems becomes money. But as we know in the States, money will not bring ultimate fulfillment or happiness. Good grief, how shaky is the world’s financial system? One hint of trouble, and the markets are negatively affected. The world’s financial system seems to have the strength of iron, yet the fragility and frailty of clay.
Equip Uganda seeks to provide real answers and fulfillment in life by providing physical answers to life’s needs, as well as the ultimate spiritual answer to life, that of the Truth, found in no one else but Jesus Christ. The answers are not quick and easy answers. But they are answers that bring ultimate fulfilling satisfaction and contentment.
Wow, Mark, this is so eloquently said.. so powerful. Thanks for sharing this perspective. I agree and need to be continually reminded. Hope you and your family are well!