How Could God Allow All of This Suffering? (Part 1)


(1st of a 5-part Series)

“Where is God in all this?” This question was recently posed to me by someone, referring to the death and suffering we see being reported on TV because of COVID-19. A very real question. As of this writing, about 40 thousand people had already died due to COVID-19 worldwide and 800 thousand have been infected. In the Philippines, almost a hundred had died and two thousand have been infected.

But as sad as this may be, these numbers are dwarfed by past pandemics and epidemics. To mention just a few, worldwide, 500 million people died of smallpox during the 19th century. 17 to 100 million died of the Spanish Flu in just 2 years in the 1900s. More than 12 million died in the Bubonic Plague in India and China. 75 to 200 million were killed in Europe, Asia, and North America due to the Black Death plague during the 13th century. The Justinian Plague of AD 500 took 25 to 100 million lives. And even 400 years before Christ was born, 75 to 100 million lives were taken by the Plague of Athens in Greece alone.

These staggering numbers can be so overwhelming to take in, especially with the background of the current pandemic. And despite the biotechnological advancements that we have in the 21st century, the world is struggling to fight this novel virus that has already affected more than 200 countries, so far.

But sickness and death are just one side of the problem that the world is facing during the current pandemic. Most of the global economy has practically come to a halt causing countless people not just to lose their income but their jobs. Some businesses, especially the smaller ones, have already closed down. Those whose subsistence is merely on a day to day basis have found themselves scraping the bottom of an empty barrel hoping to find some means to feed their families. And we don’t even know how this will impact the future even when the pandemic is over when people would not only have already suffered from all this loss but also have to contend with a backlog of payables that have piled up during the lockdown. And by that time, so many would be grieving for the deaths of their loved ones, including both the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots, the powerful and the powerless.

The Problem of Suffering and Evil

All the suffering, the pain, the anguish. Why? How could a God of love allow all this to be happening? Is He angry at the world? Maybe He has lost control of things? Maybe He doesn’t even know what’s going on with us? Or maybe He does know but He just doesn’t care?

To be honest, if I were to look solely at the problems we are facing today, add to this the everyday troubles that are constantly before us with or without the pandemic, I would also be asking the same questions myself and would find it very difficult to consider any explanation. This is plainly due to the simple reason that my feeble mind would find it hard to process. The fact is that many theologians and Christian apologists contend with the problem of evil, pain, and suffering not so easily. It’s a hard and real question that involves both the mind and the emotion. So, far be it from me to pretend that I have definitive specific answers to these questions. But what I do know is this – God has not left us to be clueless about these issues.
To be clear, the assumption in this writing is that you, the reader, already believe in God, i.e., that you are not an atheist, whose questions and concerns we can deal with at another time. For our purposes then, we will base our answers on certain aspects of God’s character and attributes that are widely known among believers in God and Jesus Christ. In the next four parts, we will take a look at three of these attributes and see what we can glean from them that can contribute to the answers to our questions. Here are the four parts:
I pray that by the end of this article, we would have a better understanding of who God really is in relation to the pain and suffering in this world. God knows everything we are going through. He loves and cares for us enough to allow us to go through them. And He sits on His throne making sure that all things go according to His perfect plan that had been pre-ordained for His people.
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