Why do people starve under the aegis of a beneficent God?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture

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Question: In Matthew 6, Jesus says we must not worry about our physical needs because our Father in heaven will help us. But every year, thousands of people die of starvation. Atheists have two questions about this: 1 Why does your God let children die of starvation? He could certainly help them, but they die without mercy. 2 If your God hears the prayers of the mothers who cry for help for their starving children, then why do children in God-fearing families die? Are Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 untrue?

Answer: Thank you for asking such an important question. If God is who we say he is, then why do so many children suffer from hunger? Here, I not only defend the skeptic — I commend the skeptic! Given what we see in the world, the question, “Why is there so much suffering under a beneficent God?” is a fair one.

But note this about Matthew 6:25-33: Jesus never said that God would feed the world’s children. His statement of care was much broader. The theme of chapter 6 is not to worry about such things (25).

Take the birds, for instance (26); this passage says that God provides for them. But have you ever seen a big hand come down from the sky — grab hold of a bird — and stick a berry in its mouth? Of course not! The bird takes care of business because it’s in its nature to use what God has already provided. We humans have natures, too… and we too should take care of business.

So, just what is our nature when it comes to feeding ourselves, our children and others? We do it ourselves; we do not wait for God to bring us food. And do you know what else we don’t do… we who read the Bible, that is? We do not blame God when things go wrong. It’s because of our sin that we have ignored his clear instructions and mismanaged the world (Genesis 1:28). People starve because of us, not because of God. There is plenty of food… just not enough parity.

So, here’s what the skeptics are doing: they are blaming God for not conforming to their image of what the Christian’s God should be. They blame him without understanding the Bible or his nature. Therefore, they don’t understand why he runs the world the way he does — with millions of people starving. The problem is not so much that skeptics are speaking and being heard; the problem is that they are uninformed about the true God and misinformed about how he works in the world.

Nevertheless, they are half right: they should be bothered when children starve! But they are the ones who should act if it bothers them so much. They are human, too. It’s not just on us Christians to relieve world hunger. Now, God built us so we would help one another. But it was sin — not God — that corrupted his program. Nevertheless, the program persists. Humans should take care of humans. That’s how God designed the job to get done.

As you can imagine, we get this type of question quite often. Our sister ministry, Got Questions Ministries, has a cogent article on just this topic. I’ll end with that articles. If this does not answer your question, please write back. God bless you.


Question: "Why does God not seem to care about the millions of starving children in the world?"

Answer: Some people blame God for the number of starving children in the world, accusing Him of lacking the power or the care He should have. It is true that hunger is a problem for many in our world, and many children suffer from malnutrition. Compassion International reports that over 3 million children die annually from malnourishment. In developing countries, 25 percent of children are underweight and at risk of suffering the long-term effects of being under-nourished. The problem is real, but the Bible teaches that God’s love is just as real.

For every question that we might have about God, He has provided insight, clues, and answers already in His Word, the Bible. Jesus taught that children are important to God: “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better off for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:5-6, ESV). Then, in verse 10, Jesus said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” The fact is God cares.

Relief organizations and government agencies agree that there is plenty of food in the world to feed everyone. The problem is not a lack of food but a lack of accessibility to the food. With enough food in the world to feed the entire population, the fault does not lie with God. Rather, the fault lies with the corrupt nature of man. Instead of acting as trustworthy stewards of the world’s resources, nations and individuals often hoard food, mismanage resources, and squander money instead of seeing that people are fed.

God is not responsible for the foolishness of man. Neither is He responsible for greed, selfishness, hatred, pride, laziness, hoarding, cruelty, spite, callousness, or any other sin that contributes to world hunger. There is no unrighteousness in God (Psalm 92:15). All people are sinners (Romans 3:23), and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The tragedies of the world—especially preventable tragedies such as world hunger—are the result of sin (see Romans 8:22).

God cares for the children of the world. He proves His care in that He sent His Son into the world to redeem us from the curse of sin. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

God also shows His care in that He prompts the followers of Christ to help alleviate world hunger. God is currently working to feed the hungry children of the world through many Christian agencies—Compassion InternationalWorld VisionWorld HelpFeed the HungrySamaritan’s Purse—the list could go on and on. Christian missionaries are all over the world helping people with their basic needs while teaching them God’s Word. They do this out of love for their Lord and love for people. They do this because they “are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10).

God is good, all the time. But it is often discouraging to see such evil and suffering in the world. We know that evil exists not because of God, but because of Satan, sin, and the fallen condition of mankind. We do not give up hope. We “resist in the evil day” (Ephesians 6:13, NASB). We love our neighbors as ourselves, for the sake of Him who “so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). One day, our Lord will make all things right, and “no longer will there be any curse” (Revelation 22:3).

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20210308 Why do people starve under the aegis of a beneficent God?).

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