SufferingThe base concept of a question would be that it is a line of inquiry. This is rarely the case today, most questions are not to inquire, but for inquisition. For example the question: “How can a loving God allow suffering?” is normally leveled by the agnostic rather than by a true believer. In reality, few lose their faith as a result of suffering. Christians typically encounter greater faith from suffering.
As in all questions of inquisition, the design is to limit the field of consideration, to entrap. The true, more comprehensive, question should be: “Must a loving God suffer?”
Certainly a loving God does not have to suffer. However, a loving God (compelled by love) would naturally create from a loving perspective. The highest love must be unencumbered, or freely given and freely received. A loving God would naturally create with relational intentions in order for his love to be shared. This love requires liberty, and liberty undergirds the highest love. Where liberty exists, independence is always a possibility.
Certainly, the God of the Bible is identified as the “God of Love,” and this same God is also identified as the Creator-God, the One that created man in His own image. Liberty, for the sake of love, is a design feature of man and the eating of the tree of knowledge (of good and evil) became “Independence Day” for mankind from the God-of-love.
Exercised liberty is independence, and it assures suffering for the love-creature and the love-Creator. For what would a loving Creator do other than personally suffer for the relational restoration of his beloved creature?
Just as liberty enables the highest love, independence from the highest love must result in suffering. The saying: “It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all,” must then be true. Suffering is identified as “love-lost.”
The Bible promises that those that exercise liberty into a loving relationship with the God-of-love will never suffer the loss of that love. Just as those that choose to live without the love of God must suffer without God’s love.
God’s intentional design for mankind does not change because man chooses to live independently of God’s love. Suffering exists because mankind chose isolation from the love of God. A loving God must then suffer to restore his beloved to a loving relationship.
So the answer is that a loving God must suffer in order to restore the object of his love to a loving relationship. Certainly, Jesus Christ suffered for the sake of love, and grace is God’s unmerited love for mankind. This love is ever extended to mankind, and human liberty assures that this love can be embraced by faith. This love is the guarantor of eternal life, a life that transcends biological life. Temporal suffering is of little consequence in light of eternal love.
If one wants to truly inquire, then one must marvel at a God that is willing to suffer for the sake of love. No one asks the obvious question: “How could a loving God choose to suffer for the sake of his Creation?” What greater love could there be?