Why would a good, loving, and all powerful God allow so much evil and suffering in the world?
The standard Evangelical response to this question is that God desires for us to love him and for that love to be real we must have free will. Humans have decided to rebel against God and sin, thus our sins have consequences (evil and suffering). I believe that there is some truth in this response, but the existence of sin and suffering and why God Continues to let it thrive goes much deeper than that. Let me give you some bullet points to consider to you help deal with this hard issue:
– Remember that God possesses all wisdom and knowledge and we/you do not.
– How many horrid and wicked schemes has God caused to never come to fruition? You have no idea and neither do I? He is probably saving us from hundreds of disasters everyday without our ever even knowing it. God is restraining Evil in the world every day.
– Hard times, pain and suffering is often how we learn life’s greatest lesions, develop positive character traits, and grow closer with God. C.S. Lewis put it well, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speak in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a dead world.”
– God often uses pain and suffering as a means to draw us to himself. When times are good people can often be self reliant. God will often bring about or allow hard circumstances in our life to break our pride, humble us and bring us to repentance. For the person who is trusting in Christ, all circumstances are for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28)
– If you want God to eliminate sin and suffering and its causes then would you mind if he started with eliminating you? We are the problem! In order to get rid of sin and suffering God would have to deal with humans. We are the direct cause of most evil in the world.
– If you saw humanity from God’s perspective you would probably ask, “Why does this God of Justice and righteousness allow any pleasure and goodness in the lives of humans at all?” We are so corrupted by sin that we do not realize the stench of our sin in God’s nose. We forget that we actually deserve suffering because of our rebellion against God. It is only because of his mercy we don’t get sent to Hell after our first sin.
– Trials and suffering reveal to us if our allegiance to God is real, and it provides opportunities for Him to show himself faithful to his true children. (1 Peter 1:5-7)
– God comforts his children in our suffering so that we can be of help to others when they enter times of suffering or affliction. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
– God does not just point the finger and look at suffering and sin from a distance. God became a man in the person of Jesus and he suffered more than any person ever had or ever would so that he could conquer sin once and for all time.
– God promises that all things will be made new. He will make this broken and sinful world into a place of perfection and paradise. It will be a new Heaven and new earth where God’s people will enjoy him, worship him and exalt in him forever. (Revelation 21:4)
– God is completely sovereign, but this does not mean that human decisions are not real and that they won’t be held accountable for their evil actions. For example we can see God’s plan for the death of Christ in Acts 2:23, yet those who were responsible for the crime will endure wrath unless they repent. This is truly a hard concept to figure out.
– Those who suffer in this life will be so amazed by Go for all of eternity that the trials of this world will be nothing compared to the glories of heaven and the rewards obtained if the suffering was for Jesus’ sake. On the flipside, those who do not receive the forgiveness that Christ offers will suffer eternally at the hands of a perfectly holy and just God.
– We could not know the fullness of God’s love and goodness if evil and suffering did not exist, as a result we will be able to glorify God at a higher level and enjoy him at a higher level
– God has temporarily allowed sin and suffering primarily to allow for His greatest glorification and secondarily for the ultimate good of those who truly love him. True worshipers of God will have a far greater capacity to appreciate God and his goodness after seeing what darkness is like which will magnify the Glory given to God and our ability to enjoy him. Christians also have the promise that any suffering endured for Christ’s sake will be repaid over and above in the life to come.
– God has been glorified by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in a magnificent way. Followers of Christ will praise him for eternity for the work accomplished during his time dwelling on earth. None of His redemptive work would have been possible or necessary had sin not entered the world.
– If sin had not entered the world then God could not show us the full extent of his love and his willingness to sacrifice for us. Heroes and Saviors are only shown to be what they are when the circumstances are right.
“The existence of evil and suffering proves that God does not exist.”
On the surface this may seem to be a good objection to negate the existence of God, but I believe that if you scratch a bit below the surface, the existence of sin, evil, and suffering actually proves that God is real.
Why is stealing, murder and rape wrong? Most people I ask this question to respond by saying, “ because it hurts someone.” I respond by saying, “what is wrong with hurting someone?” Try to answer this question for yourself. If Atheists are correct that there is no God, and we are just glorified monkey-like creatures, then where did all this fuss about evil, suffering, and sin come from? If we are purely random, materialistic cosmic accidents, then sin, evil, and suffering are just concepts humans made up. They are not real. The Big Bang and Darwinian evolution cannot account for evil and immorality. If Darwin was right and it really is survival of the fittest out there then there is nothing really wrong with stealing (more for me), murder (less mouths to feed), rape (spread my seed). This is crazy talk that leads to monsters like Hitler. Atheism and naturalistic evolution cannot account for the reality of moral laws and real suffering. If the critics are right, then moral ills like rape, murder, and racism are not really ills at all, they are simply societal preferences.
The Critics are not right. God is the creator of Goodness and morality. Moral laws exist and he is the moral law giver. He is the standard of goodness by which everything is measured. God has in a general sense written his laws on our hearts; we call it our conscience. The fine tuning of our conscience comes when we learn what he has written in his word (the Bible).
Romans 2:14-16 (ESV) “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”