Why does God allow for the suffering and death of children from natural causes like disease and natural disasters?

Thank you for the opportunity to ask questions .
The question asked so many times of nonbelieving friends is , why does God allow (or cause, some say) suffering and death of children, not from human hands but because of disease, or illness.?
I am always stumped by this question, especially when we see no tangible reason or good come out of it, no lessons learned nor faith increase or even happen.
Thank you,
Lynne

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I completely understand your difficulty Lynne - this is the hardest question of all when it comes to belief in God. It’s important to remember when talking to friends about this topic that this question comes from at least two places: First is the places of observation - looking at the suffering around us and asking how an all-loving and powerful God can possible exist in the light of it. Second - and i would argue far more seriously - is the place of personal experience. Many suffering questions come out of people’s own experience of pain and brokenness and that has to massively influence how we respond to them on this question. If we give people an abstract, philosophical answers (no matter how good) to this question when it is really a question emerging out of personal pain, will be in danger not only of not taking seriously people’s suffering but perhaps even adding to their suffering in doing so. So next time you are asked, maybe respond by asking your friends if there is a particular reason why they are asking this question - that will help you know where to go with your answer!
Any adequate answer to this question would be a long one and there are loads of good resources on youtube in which members of RZIM answer this question. As a starter though, let me give you a few things to consider:

  1. This is not simply a question for Christians. All religions and worldviews (including atheism) have to account for the reality and meaning of suffering in our world. If atheism is true, we cannot even ask the “why?” question because the universe has no ultimate meaning and so even finding ourselves needing to ask such a question is irrelevant and ultimately futile.
  2. Although many natural disasters (like earthquakes and tsunamis) have no direct human causes, not all seemingly “natural” disasters (like famine or disease) are completely “not from human hands”. I know an academic who specialises in disaster management and he often likes to say that, “No natural disaster is completely “natural””. Sometimes diseases and famines can be caused by government exploitation, refusing to implement hygiene initiatives, or affects of this like over-farming or misuse of the eco-system much earlier up the line. Simply because the human cause of disasters are not always apparent doesn’t mean to say that some of these disasters are the products of human selfishness and sin.
  3. The Bible affirms our instinct when we encounter suffering that “something has gone wrong” (unlike atheism). We do not experience the world as God intended and the Fall has impacted every aspect of creation.
  4. Finally, we don’t always know why God permits some disasters and suffering. And when we don’t know the precise reasons why, the real question becomes whether there is any evidence that we should trust God in the face of such pain and brokenness. I think there are good reasons. First because God has not remained distant from human suffering but has become part of it - even to the point of death. And, second, because the Christian God offers us one thing every single person needs in the midst of suffering and disaster (whether it comes by natural or human agency) - HOPE. We all need to believe the no matter how bad the suffering is, no matter how much we understand the reasons behind it, what we need is hope that this suffering will not the be end of the story. Christianity says that suffering won’t be and in raising Jesus from the dead God has proved it. If Jesus truly rose form the dead it means that death (no matter how we encounter it) is not the end, justice will come, and one day the world will be put right and God Himself will wipe the final tears from our eyes. That doesn’t answer every “why?” question but it does for me suggest that God can be trusted in the midst of such a world of suffering, trusted even with my own tears.
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