If God is such a loving God, then why would he allow innocent children to suffer? This is a question that gets asked a lot. I don’t have the full answer, none of us do, because we can’t see the big picture the way God does. There is some insight we can gain from the Bible though that does shed some more light on the darkness of this question.
Lamentations 2:11-12 (NIV)
11 My eyes fail from weeping,
I am in torment within;
my heart is poured out on the ground
because my people are destroyed,
because children and infants faint
in the streets of the city.
12 They say to their mothers,
“Where is bread and wine?”
as they faint like the wounded
in the streets of the city,
as their lives ebb away
in their mothers’ arms.
Jeremiah’s words are laced with emotional. Stewing just beneath his grief was an anguished questions: How could God have permitted these children to suffer?
All people, including children, are born into sin.
Romans 5:12 (NIV)
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
The sin of Adam and Eve infected each succeeding generation, leading to the suffering and consequences that sin produces. While these children had not participated in the specific sins that incited God’s wrath, they were not themselves sinless.
Unfortunately, children suffer for their parent’s actions. This includes crack babies, adult children of alcoholics or teens of emotionally absent parents, among many other things. In the same way, children, as members of a community, share in the benefits or consequences of that community’s actions, even though they had nothing to do with the decision. In many countries, children are the victims of the older generation’s war and terrorism.
Some insist that no one but God can be ultimately responsible for such suffering, and perhaps these are the feelings behind Jeremiah’s honest, but bitter complaints.
Lamentations 2:19-20 (NIV)
19 Arise, cry out in the night,
as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like water
in the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him
for the lives of your children,
who faint from hunger
at every street corner.
20 “Look, Lord, and consider:
Whom have you ever treated like this?
Should women eat their offspring,
the children they have cared for?
Should priest and prophet be killed
in the sanctuary of the Lord?
Yet God never wanted anyone to suffer. Death is the natural result of sin.
Romans 6:23 (NIV)
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life inChrist Jesus our Lord.
Judah could only blame herself for the suffering.
When we see children suffering and tempted to blame God, we need to take a minute and blame ourselves instead, the ones who are really to blame. All God did was forgive us and love us anyway. Despite all our wrong, he let His only Son die so that we could have life. God does not cause children or any of us to suffer so we shouldn’t blame Him.