If suffering is not from God, what accounts for mass starvation, grinding poverty, brutal warfare, crippling diseases, and natural disasters? God’s Word, the Bible, reveals three main causes for mankind’s suffering:
Selfishness, Greed, and Hatred. “Man has dominated man to his harm.” (Ecclesiastes 8:9) People often suffer because they are victimized by imperfect, selfish, or cruel humans.
Time and Unforeseen Events. Humans often suffer “because time and unexpected events overtake them.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) That is, people are simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, accidents occur, or people are careless or make mistakes.
The Evil Ruler of the World. The Bible clearly identifies the primary cause of human suffering. It states: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) That “wicked one” is Satan the Devil, a powerful spirit creature who was originally an angel of God but “did not stand fast in the truth.” (John 8:44) Other spirit creatures joined Satan and rebelled against God in order to pursue selfish desires, thus making themselves demons. (Genesis 6:1-5) Ever since their rebellion, Satan and his demons have exerted a powerful and cruel influence over this world’s affairs. This has been particularly so in our time. Now, the Devil has great anger and “is misleading the entire inhabited earth,” which has resulted in “woe for the earth.” (Revelation 12:9, 12) Indeed, Satan is a brutal dictator. He gets perverse satisfaction from human suffering. It is Satan—not God—who causes people to suffer.
CONSIDER: Only a heartless, diabolical evildoer would cause innocent people to suffer. By contrast, the Bible says: “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) In harmony with his loving personality, “it is unthinkable for the true God to act wickedly, for the Almighty to do wrong!”—Job 34:10.
However, you may naturally wonder, ‘How long will Almighty God permit Satan to continue his heinous rule?’ As we have seen, God abhors wickedness and our suffering causes him great pain. Furthermore, his Word urges: “Throw all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) God loves us and has the power to remove all suffering and injustice, as the following article will explain. *
^ par. 7 For a detailed explanation of why God has allowed suffering, see chapter 11 of the book What Can the Bible Teach Us? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses and available for free download at www.jw.org.