Why Does God Allow Suffering?


Greetings! Thank you for this service! Question: If God is All-Goodness/Peace/Joy/Love/Bliss, then how could (or why would) He become or create evil & suffering (as part of creation); wouldn't that be impossible given His very Nature? And similarly, if God is also All-Good & All-Powerful why does He not simply dissolve the whole of creation (with all its suffering, in which He Himself is, or is also, presumably "suffering" even if He is also simultaneously beyond the suffering?) in an instant?

—John C, USA


Dear Friend,

You have asked the ages-old paradox that all compassionate and thoughtful people must ask: “Why does God (who is all Good, permit suffering?”

Besides the answer shown below, this question has inspired me to expand upon it in my blog. If you’d like to read the expanded version, go to http://hrimananda.blogspot.com

Is a parent negligent who permits his child to go to school where bullies or other students might harangue or hurt him? Is a parent negligent who permits his son to go to war, perhaps to return crippled for life, or to never return?

God is not the cause of suffering: we are, for we prefer to revel in the the gifts and pleasures of His creation rather than to see these as but His gifts and His gifts as reason for returning His love to Him, rather than to pursue ego aggrandizement, pleasure, and success for ourselves.

Yes, God could dissolve this creation; some say, in fact, that he does every 4 billion years or so (like night and day cycles). But then it just continues later.

God is the novelist, the playwright, who sets into motion a grand drama whose purpose is entertainment, thrills, and hide ‘n seek. He doesn’t want us to suffer but if the show is to go on He can’t simply make us puppets and pull all the strings. The show would be a sham. He is hoping his children will wake up and seek Him behind the curtain of maya but the show won’t work unless he gives us the freedom and at the same time makes the showing enticing enough to make it difficult to “find Him.”

I agree it’s bad deal for us. Paramhansa Yogananda said he used to “argue with God” that as He made this mess, he has to clean it up. But, to no avail. Yogananda said he knows why but nonetheless he also knows we suffer so.

Suffering gives thoughtful people more than cause for anger or puzzlement; it also gives us an incentive to seek the answer to life’s riddle. For we know perfectly well that life is a gift and the gift is good! But then there’s pesky thing called suffering!

The real question isn’t so much “Why does God permit suffering” but the more practical one: “What do I do about it?” We have the freedom and therefore we have the opportunity (and responsibility) to solve the riddle of life by our own efforts. When we unite those efforts and direct those questions to God (being willing to pay whatever price the great pearl of truth may cost us), then He responds.

At first we read books, talk to people, go to teachers. But in time as our ardor blossoms into the flower of faithful devotion, He sends us a true guru: one who can help us achieve freedom from endless rounds of birth and death (and suffering).

Make each day an effort to know, love and serve God in the silence of your soul and in the hands of your daily service, guided by wisdom and compassion.

“God so loved the world that He sent His only-begotten Son to redeem it.” That son is, at first the guru, but in time it is the our very own soul, a child of God, for this is who and what we are. God knows that we suffer and wants to help us but most people are too busy with the playthings and troubles of this world to seek Him, not for making our mud puddle nicer, but for His love alone.

May the LIght of Truth and the Moon of Divine Love guide your footsteps to His bliss,

Nayaswami Hriman