James 1:2-4 —
A dam failure in Derna, Libya, on September 11 of this year killed an estimated 18,000-20,000 people. In August of this year, estimated deaths and injuries caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reached 500,000. Cancer resulted in more than 600,000 deaths in the US alone in 2022. Suffering and death amplify when we move from large perspectives to personal ones; it becomes raw and heartbreaking when it moves from statistics into the lives of people we know. The inescapable reality of suffering and death motivated Richard Dawkins to write in his 1995 book, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life:
“Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous-indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose.”
Like Dawkins, numerous people believe suffering’s widespread and “pitilessly indifferent” character undermines the Bible’s claims, raising tough questions like, “How could a loving God allow so much suffering?” This lesson will conclude our “Tough Questions” series by considering suffering’s challenge.