In my previous post, I asserted that the picture of God in the Bible is of a God who is both personal and good. He is a God who walked and talked with His children in the Garden of Eden. This God desires a relationship with people. And that is perhaps the problem we face with a personal God. He desires a relationship with us. And relationships that involve love can be risky.
C.S. Lewis wrote about this in Mere Christianity:
If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata—of creatures that worked like machines—would hardly be worth creating.
There was a movie that depicted what a world of automata would look like. The Stepford Wives was about a neighborhood where the husbands had replaced their flesh and blood wives with robots that looked just like their wives. So, husbands, imagine if your real wife who could discuss, argue, challenge, and even nag you at times was replaced by a robotic version of herself? One who would cook your favorite meals, let you watch your favorite shows, schedule your favorite events, laugh at your every joke, and do whatever it took to make you happy. Would you want that?
The correct answer is, “No! Of course not!”
Honestly, it may seem like a great idea initially, but eventually you would long for someone to disagree with you; someone to burn your meals; someone to love you because she wants to, not because she has to. In order for her to truly love you, she must have the freedom to not love you.
You see, for a relational God to exist there must be freedom to choose that relationship. It is one of the ways in which God is good. The person who does not want God to interfere in their day-to-day life is the very same person who when he or she suffers will want God in that moment to interfere and end the suffering. And that person who would get angry at God for interfering in his/her “fun” will also get mad at God for not interfering in their suffering.
For a relational God to exist there must be freedom to choose that relationship.
For God to set up this world in a way for relationship where people can choose to be involved in His goodness or not means that He couldn’t create us as a bunch of automatons. You can’t have freedom to choose and only be able to choose good.
And that’s the problem. People choose their way instead of God’s way. And because they choose their way evil and suffering exist in our world. It exists whether you believe there is a God or not. But, because the Bible tells us about a God that is both great and good, we are not left to deal with suffering alone.