Christian apologist and author Lee Strobel, in doing research for his book THE CASE FOR FAITH, once asked Barna researchers and pollsters to conduct a survey to determine the one question most people would want to ask God if given the opportunity.
"By far, the number one question that people wanted to ask God is 'Why He allows pain and suffering in this world?'"
In offering the world a theological answer to this question, it's important not only to explain the involvement of free-will and the consequences of the fall of man, but to also move the conversation to include the suffering of God. For although the world suffers as a consequence of disobedience, God has also suffered as a consequence of His love for us. He does not leave us here alone to suffer, but has come down and fully embraced our suffering, making it His own.
As John Stott has so eloquently articulated:
I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the one Nietzsche ridiculed as “God on the Cross.” In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples and stood respectfully before the statue of Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us.
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin" (Hebrews 4:15).
[John R. W. Stott is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist and communicator of Scripture. For many years he served as rector of All Souls Church in London, where he carried out an effective urban pastoral ministry. A leader among evangelicals in Britain, the United States and around the world, Stott was a principal framer of the landmark Lausanne Covenant (1974). His many books, including Why I Am a Christian and The Cross of Christ, have sold millions of copies around the world and in dozens of languages.]