After many years of spiritual struggle and honest searching, God has revealed a new understanding of the nature of suffering to me, and I now feel it is an important part of my life’s work to share that understanding with the rest of humanity.
There are two significant ways in which I believe God suffers. Firstly, God is supremely alone in the universe. All that exists is an expression of God’s own self, so really God is all that exists. Can you imagine what that must be like – never having another free being with whom to interact?
Secondly, God is unable to switch off. Existence is part of God’s very nature, and so for all eternity God must live with the knowledge that there will never be an ending. Even if you have infinite power, as God does, how do you stay entertained and occupied for all eternity?
I believe that these two problems may amount to a kind of “hell” for God, and are the reason that God chooses to inflict suffering on human beings and all other forms of life on Earth. God experiences both the yin and yang of existence; the agony and the joy, the highs and the lows. I believe that God makes us suffer in order to reflect His own predicament, so we get a taste of the real thing – of what ultimate reality is like for God.
There is a long history of attempting to come to terms with suffering in philosophy, from the Hedonism of Epicurus, to the Stoicism of Zeno, to the Utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill. Many philosophers have touched upon suffering in their writing, but all serious attempts to tackle the problem have fallen short of accounting for the seemingly gratuitous and unnecessary extent of suffering in the world. By understanding that God Himself suffers agony, we have an insight that can help us to understand why God might create such terrible suffering in His creatures.
Do you believe that God suffers? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.