The world is full of people with pain and suffering of various degrees from minor pain of a finger with a splinter to a walking or bed ridden near death life of suffering in pure misery of a debilitating disease. Pain and suffering comes from hunger, homelessness, sickness, birth defects, accidents, murder, natural disasters, and an assorted infinite number of other causes each with its own various levels of inflection awaiting to bring someone or masses into a life of despair which may have started even before birth.
Millions of people without food to eat in the world live with daily suffering with hunger pains. World hunger, the want or scarcity of food in a country, leads to malnutrition which an estimated 854 million people world wide are undernourished per the most recent 2006 Food and Agriculture Organization estimate. Most of the undernourished (820 million people) are in developing countries per the FAO estimate based on statistical aggregates.1
In the United States, homelessness is defined as a person who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence and although it is difficult to ascertain the number of homeless in the US, it is estimated to be between 2.3 and 3.5 million people in a study released in 2007 by the National Alliance to End Homelessness. That same study says that 59 percent of homeless people counted were single adults and 41 percent were persons living in families. A total of 98,452 homeless families were counted.2
Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. There are more than 100 different types of cancer.
Estimated new cases and deaths from cancer in the United States in 2009:
New cases: 1,479,350 (does not include non-melanoma skin cancers) Deaths: 562,340
Here’s a short list of the most common cancers: 3
Colon and Rectal Cancer
Kidney (Renal Cell) Cancer
Skin Cancer (Non-melanoma)
Diabetes affects the lives of 23.6 million people in the United States, or 8% of the population and the total prevalence of diabetes increased 13.5% from 2005-2007. Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications and certain populations experience an even greater threat. Based on death certificate data, diabetes contributed to 224,092 deaths in 2002. Studies indicate that diabetes in generally under-reported on death certificates, particularly in the cases of older persons with multiples chronic conditions such as heart disease and hypertension. Because of this, the toll of diabetes is believed to be much higher than officially reported.4
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects an estimated 80,000,000 American adults (one in three) of whom 38,100,000 are estimated to be age 60 or older. CVD the underlying cause of death (including congenital cardiovascular defects) accounted for 35.3 percent (864,480) of all 2,448,017 deaths in 2005, or one of every 2.8 deaths in the United States. Nearly 2,400 Americans die of CVD each day, an average of one death every 37 seconds. CVD claims about as many lives each year as cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents and
diabetes mellitus combined.5
Here is a list from the American Heart Association of diseases and conditions that put your heart at risk.6
May lead to stroke or sudden death.
As blood cholesterol levels rise, so does the risk for cardiovascular disease.
Congenital Heart Disease
Heart defects are more common than you think.
Increases cardiovascular disease risk by two to four times.
Can cause permanent
damage to the heart muscle — or death.
Inhibits the heart’s ability to pump blood.
High Blood Pressure
The single most important risk factor for stroke.
This group of risk factors includes many of the other conditions that are risk factors by themselves.
Considered a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and heart attack.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Commonly undiagnosed and can lead to heart attack or stroke.
The nation’s third leading cause of death.
I could continue listing numerous more diseases and illness however you get the idea of this type of pain and suffering don’t you? Sickness is something that affects everyone at some time and in some way in ones lifetime. The pain and suffering from sickness can be surreal to not only the ones afflicted with the illness but to their families and friends too.
Birth defects affect about one in every 33 babies born in the United States each year. They are the leading cause of infant deaths, accounting for more than 20% of all infant deaths. Babies born with birth defects have a greater chance of illness and long term disability than babies without birth defects. A birth defect is a problem that happens while the baby is developing in the mother’s body. Most birth defects happen during the first 3 months of pregnancy. A birth defect may affect how the body looks, works, or both. It can be found before birth, at birth, or anytime after birth. Most defects are found within the first year of life.7
People suffer pain through accidents every day and that pain and suffering can last a lifetime. Accidents occur in and through aviation, bicycles, cars, drowning, electrocution, falling, golfing, hockey, incontinence, jogging, karate, and so it goes in an infinite list. Accidents happen and people suffer and that’s a fact of life. Pain and suffering resulting from an accident could be something which stays with someone till death.
The Virginia Tech massacre, Columbine, Oklahoma City, the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 are just a few examples of people murdering large numbers of innocent people. An estimated 16,692 persons were murdered nationwide in 2005, an increase of 3.4 percent from 2004. Murder comprised 1.2 percent of the overall estimated number of violent crimes in 2005 and there were an estimated 5.6 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.8 The pain and suffering one goes through in the loss of a loved one or friend to murder is tremendous and may last a lifetime for some people.
Natural Disasters (Natural Events)
The effects of natural events have on the environment directly and indirectly cause pain and suffering to many people. Forest fires and volcanoes harm air quality and destroy homes. Hurricanes and floods can contaminate water supplies and damage wastewater facilities and destroy homes. People’s response to natural events can also harm either themselves or the environment through the improper use of portable generators or supplemental heating devices release of deadly carbon monoxide and destruction of homes.
Take for example Hurricane Katrina’s pain and suffering inflections which are still being felt by many today:10
The total damage from Katrina is estimated at $81.2 billion (2005 U.S. dollars), nearly double the cost of the previously most expensive storm, Hurricane Andrew, when adjusted for inflation.
As of May 19, 2006, the confirmed death toll (total of direct and indirect deaths) stood at 1,836, mainly from Louisiana (1,577) and Mississippi (238). However, 705 people remain categorized as missing in Louisiana, and many of the deaths are indirect, but it is almost impossible to determine the exact cause of some of the fatalities.
Federal disaster declarations covered 90,000 square miles (233,000 km²) of the United States, an area almost as large as the United Kingdom. The hurricane left an estimated three million people without electricity.
Personal Pain and Suffering
I personally experienced pain and suffering from having my appendix burst, broken bones through motorcycle and bicycle accidents, having my left leg paralyzed from a fall in a bath tub, two back surgeries; one from the fall in the tub and the other from being rear ended while stopped at a stop sign not long after the first back surgery, seeing a neighbors home burn down to the ground and the loss of my black cat to coyotes. I also know the pain and suffering someone goes through after having a loved one murdered as my dad was murdered just over twenty years ago.
I look at the world around me and see a lot wrong with it. I see it everywhere, don’t you? Babies are born with birth defects. People die tragically of cancer, leukemia, and a variety of genetic diseases over which they have no control. Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and other storms kill thousands of innocent people. People battle depression, loneliness, all kinds of mental illnesses and disorders. We suffer from drought, insect infestations, war and the list goes on and on with no end in sight.
You may too have recently received bad medical news, lost your job, lost your home, gone through a divorce, or experienced the death of a loved one or all of the above and/or something else. I acknowledge the depth of your pain and suffering and I think it’s legitimate and valid.
Why should a baby be born into the world with defects that alter the normal course of life? Why not murder it before it is born (abortion) and not have to deal with it?
Number of abortions per year: Approximately 42 Million
Number of abortions per day: Approximately 115,000
UNITED STATES (11)
Number of abortions per year: 1.37 Million (1996)
Number of abortions per day: Approximately 3,700
Why should someone continue to live in pain and suffering when suicide is legal in some states? Under deceptive names su
ch as ‘The right to die’ and ‘Death with dignity’ suicide is now legal in many states and countries. Who’s definition of ‘pain and suffering’ does the person wanting to take their own life have to go by before it is ‘legal’ for them to take their own life? When too is it okay for someone to assist in suicide without it being murder?12
The point I need to make right now is that denying the existence of God does not remove the pain and suffering we experience. Denying God’s existence also does nothing to make problems in our life any easier. If there is no God and we have no purpose in existing, then the only answer to chronic pain, suffering, birth defects, cancer, and all of the other things that afflict us is suicide or euthanasia. “Survival of the fittest” may sound good as long as you are fit; but when old age, disease, and injuries set in, “survival of the fittest” is a destructive and pessimistic mantra. Atheism offers nothing. It has no encouragement to give, and no solution to offer.12
God’s Love for Us?
How can a loving and merciful God allow such things I have written about in this article to happen? I mean if God truly exists, why would He let things like this happen to the very people He is supposed to love so very much?
I do not pretend to have an easy answer nor do I have all the answers that will satisfy all who ask this question. In my own life however, as I have briefly noted above (and have experienced much more than what I stated above) have gone through pain and suffering to enough of a measure that I can speak on it with some level of authority.
Is God to blame for these things? Do such tragedies prove that God does not exist? Or is it possible that these incidents tell us more about ourselves (you and me) than we are willing to admit?
Let’s briefly look at hunger. The world produces enough food to feed everyone. World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day. The principal problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow, or income to purchase, enough food.1
A quick look at homeless people shows us that:
38% report alcohol use problems
26% report other drug use problems
39% report some form of mental health problems (20-25% meet criteria for serious mental illness)
66% report either substance use and/or mental health problems
3% report having HIV/AIDS
26% report acute health problems other than HIV/AIDS such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, or sexually transmitted diseases
46% report chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer (2)
From brief looks at hunger and homelessness it show a matter of choice is a contributing factor in each. In world hunger it is the choice of those people who have food to not share and contribute to those who do not have food. The choice a majority (66%) of those who are homeless is to abuse their bodies with alcohol, drugs, sex or other means which leaves them without a permanent shelter.
I’ve had my share of accidents and for the majority of them, I made a bad choice. In the other accidents I was involved in someone else made a bad choice. If you look at the accidents you’ve encountered I’m sure you too if truthful will find bad choices in either your actions or someone else’s actions which caused the accident.
Murder without a doubt comes from someone’s choice to kill someone. Motives vary from one murder to another as does the means of the taking of a person’s life yet the choice to commit murder is the same in each case. Someone makes a choice to kill someone else.
Now a bit more in-depth look at sickness and birth defects. All encompassing sickness and birth defects come as a result of a choice made a long, long time ago and has afflicted mankind ever since and even brought to us death. This choice was when Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil after God had told him to not eat from it.14 Adam not following God’s request of him to not eat from that tree also brought natural disasters to the earth.15
Our Free Will
It is through the free choice God gave to us that we have pain and suffering. Yes, the choices you and I make directly affect not only you and me, they affect everyone around us today and tomorrow just as the choices people made in the past affect you and I today. God gave to you and me a free will to choose what we want to do. God loves us so much as to not force upon us anything we do not choose.
You are most likely at this point saying something like, “I never made a choice to have pain and suffering!” Well, I never made that choice either but we have it because we are living in a fallen world due to the choice Adam made to eat that forbidden fruit. Adam’s eating that forbidden fruit brought upon not only Adam but to his descendants (you and me) the consequences of not following God’s requests of us. Most likely now you are saying, “I’ve not done anything against God to deserve pain and suffering!” Well, you are wrong because I’m positive that you are like me and are not perfect and if you say that you are perfect then you are delusional and thus are not perfect. You and I cannot be perfect on our own as we are too selfish.
I hear you now saying, “I’m not selfish!” Well, if you are not selfish, why do you not give more to help the hungry? Why are you not giving more to help the homeless? Why are you not giving of yourself to help those who are sick, have gone through a natural disaster, and helping those grieving over the loss of a loved one who was murdered? Yea, like me you don’t have enough time or money to do it all, right? Like me, there’s that ball game, boating event, opera, play, movie, TV show, concert, wedding, yard work or other event and occasion just calling you to it instead.
The choices you and I make each moment of each day affects more than just our life. When you see a two year old child going against his or her parent’s request you see an example of free will. When the two year old child goes ahead and runs away from its parent as the parent is telling it to come back, the two year old made a choice to go against its parent’s will and follow its own. This is just like Adam, you and me in not following the will of God. The consequences for the two year old running away from its parent could be death if it were to run into the street and be hit by a car. Yet by only listening to its parent, the two year old could be spared death. We too can be spared death by listening to God.
It is a choice we make to follow God’s will or not. God’s will is fully described in the Holy Bible.16 God loves us and wants each of us to accept His love. God’s only request of us is that we accept His only begotten Son, Jesus as our savior. Jesus came to this world to take upon our sins so that through His sacrifice, you and I could be with God in Heaven. The only way to get into Heaven is to take Jesus as your savior. There is no way as we know to become perfect as there isn’t enough good that we can do to overcome ou
r selfishness. We only through Jesus can become perfect so that we too can be with God.
Pain and Suffering
Accepting Jesus as your savior may not take away any pain and suffering you are or will experience here on earth but you can be assured that by your accepting Jesus as your savior you will go to Heaven after you die and there is no pain and suffering there. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.(1 John 4:18 )
Remember too that pain and suffering is not all bad. Pain tells us that something is wrong with our body that needs attention. It tells us too that we need rest. Also, pain and suffering can help us endure and grow beyond normal capacity. Ask any professional athlete if their success came without pain and suffering and see what their answer is. Ask too any successful successful business person if their business came without some pain and suffering and see what they say.
Look beyond our pain and suffering to God’s perfect plan for us. God sent His only begotten Son to give His life for ours so that you and I only need to accept this fact so that we do not have to suffer pain for eternity. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.(Romans 5:8)
Yes, it is your choice to make and only your choice to make as no one can make your choice for you. Remember that not making a choice right now to follow God’s will is making a choice too not follow God’s will. There is only two choices you can make; either to follow God’s will or to not follow it. There is no middle ground. My suggestion to you is that you make the choice right now to follow God’s will. If you cannot make that choice right now, please do more research to help you make the choice to follow God’s will. You will find that God’s word is the only truth there is and it is all in the Holy Bible.
To help you in making your choice, Finding Truth Today has put together an Frequently Asked Question (Finding Truth Today FAQ) page that has a number of questions you may have answered and may have a number more questions you have yet to think of answered too. Use this as a starting point to help you make your choice to follow God’s will.
With Jesus, there is no need to fear anything. With Jesus, you do not have to worry about how good you have to be to get into Heaven. With Jesus, you can overcome your temptations to sin. With Jesus, you have pure love.
Make a wise choice for yourself as it is the only choice that really matters.
1) World Hunger Facts 2009 – http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm
2) Homeless Facts and Figures – http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/305/homeless-facts.html
3) Defining Cancer – http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/what-is-cancer
4) Diabetes Statistics – http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-statistics.jsp
5) Heart Disease & Stroke Statistics : 2009 Update At-A-Glance - http://www.americanheart.org/downloadable/heart/123783441267009Heart%20and%20Stroke%20Update.pdf
6) Diseases & Conditions That Put Your Heart at Risk – http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=1200002
7) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/bd/
8) Crime in the United States 2005 U.S Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation : Murder – http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/offenses/violent_crime/murder_homicide.html
9) Natural Disasters and Weather Emergencies – http://www.epa.gov/naturalevents/
10) Hurricane Katrina – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina
11) The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform – http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html
12) Suicide : Psychology Wiki – http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Suicide
13) Why Pain and Suffering – http://whypain.org/
14) Genesis 3:1-24 – http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%203:1-24;&version=31;
15) Romans 8:18-25 - http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%208:18-25;&version=31;
16) 1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.