Remember the purpose of this series is to give a reasonable explanation to the suffering we see in the world, so as to show that this suffering does not negate God’s existence. (You can read the first two posts in the series here and here).
In order for us to understand the general cause of suffering we must begin with the creation. The Scriptures teach that when this world was created it was created “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Everything about this world was perfect and it was perfectly equipped for its original purpose. The original purpose of creation, and more specifically of man, was to have fellowship with God. God created us so He could extend His love and fellowship to us, and so that we could reciprocate the like.
However, evil entered into the world and changed the dynamics of the creation. Some might ask, “Why did God create evil?” The answer is God did not create evil. God allowed the possibility of evil, but He did not create it. As was stated in the previous paragraph God created so that He could extend love to man and have fellowship with man and He desired that man would reciprocate. In order for man to truly reciprocate then humans must have the ability to choose. This ability to choose means that man could choose either to reciprocate or not to reciprocate. In fact for man to truly be good they must have the opportunity to be evil.
The conclusion is therefore that evil did not come into being because God created it, but rather because God allowed human beings the right to choose. When man chooses to disobey God’s command then evil happens. This is what takes place in the Garden of Eden. Man is faced with a choice before God. The choice is presented in a tree. God forbade the eating of the fruit from “the knowledge of good and evil.” This choice was an opportunity for man to reciprocate God’s love and fellowship, or to rebel against God. Man chose rebellion when Eve and then Adam ate of the forbidden fruit.
The result of that choice is often time referred to as the “curse” (Genesis 3:14-17 and Revelation 22:3). The curse was placed upon humanity and upon the earth itself. We now see the result of the curse.
This curse both affected humans and the creation in general (8:20). The creation was changed because of the curse.
The above paragraphs lead us to one conclusion. Evil, and one of its consequences suffering, exists not because God created it, but because man chose it by disobeying God. This disobedience to God brought judgment upon man and the creation. This judgment means that man now faces a world where suffering is a reality. The basic cause of the suffering that we see today is because man has sinned. If man had never sinned then there would be no suffering, but since man disobeyed God suffering exists as a result of that disobedience.