People of various religions have gone to their religious leaders and teachers to ask why there is so much suffering. Often, the response is that suffering is God’s will and that he long ago determined everything that would ever happen, including tragic events. Many are told that God’s ways are mysterious or that he brings death upon people—even children—so that he can have them in heaven with him. As you have learned, though, Jehovah God never causes what is bad. The Bible says: “Far be it from the true God to act wickedly, and the Almighty to act unjustly!”—Job 34:10.
6 Do you know why people make the mistake of blaming God for all the suffering in the world? In many cases, they blame Almighty God because they think that he is the real ruler of this world. They do not know a simple but important truth that the Bible teaches. You learned that truth in Chapter 3 of this book. The real ruler of this world is Satan the Devil.
7 The Bible clearly states: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) When you think about it, does that not make sense? This world reflects the personality of the invisible spirit creature who is “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Revelation 12:9) Satan is hateful, deceptive, and cruel. So the world, under his influence, is full of hatred, deceit, and cruelty. That is one reason why there is so much suffering.
8 A second reason why there is so much suffering is that, as discussed in Chapter 3, mankind has been imperfect and sinful ever since the rebellion in the garden of Eden. Sinful humans tend to struggle for dominance, and this results in wars, oppression, and suffering. (Ecclesiastes 4:1; 8:9) A third reason for suffering is “time and unforeseen occurrence.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) In a world without Jehovah as a protective Ruler, people may suffer because they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
9 It is comforting for us to know that God does not cause suffering. He is not responsible for the wars, the crimes, the oppression, or even the natural disasters that cause people to suffer. Still, we need to know, Why does Jehovah allow all this suffering? If he is the Almighty, he has the power to stop it. Why, then, does he hold back? The loving God that we have come to know must have a good reason.—1 John 4:8.
A VITAL ISSUE IS RAISED
10 To find out why God allows suffering, we need to think back to the time when suffering began. When Satan led Adam and Eve into disobeying Jehovah, an important question was raised. Satan did not call into question Jehovah’s power. Even Satan knows that there is no limit to Jehovah’s power. Rather, Satan questioned Jehovah’s right to rule. By calling God a liar who withholds good from his subjects, Satan charged that Jehovah is a bad ruler. (Genesis 3:2-5) Satan implied that mankind would be better off without God’s rulership. This was an attack on Jehovah’s sovereignty, his right to rule.
11 Adam and Eve rebelled against Jehovah. In effect, they said: “We do not need Jehovah as our Ruler. We can decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong.” How could Jehovah settle that issue? How could he teach all intelligent creatures that the rebels were wrong and that his way truly is best? Someone might say that God should simply have destroyed the rebels and made a fresh start. But Jehovah had stated his purpose to fill the earth with the offspring of Adam and Eve, and he wanted them to live in an earthly paradise. (Genesis 1:28) Jehovah always fulfills his purposes. (Isaiah 55:10, 11) Besides that, getting rid of the rebels in Eden would not have answered the question that had been raised regarding Jehovah’s right to rule.
12 Let us consider an illustration....