Why does God allow evil and suffering?
This is one of the greatest arguments in our modern era against the existence of God. Not only that, but why does God allow so much of it?
Now from a biblical perspective, we do have an answer as to why evil and suffering exists. We know that God originally created a perfect universe, and because Adam and Eve sinned, our world became fallen and corrupt. In God’s goodness and grace, he did not force mankind to love him, and we chose to go against God.
At this point, most non-Christians at least understand the Christian perspective, that it is in order for God to give us free will, there had to be an option to do evil. And this is when the question becomes: but why so much?
To be fair, there a many reasons and explanations that can be given for why so much evil and suffering exists. Often when I have discussions about this around other Christians some are quick to point out “why?” And I get the “why?” I studied it and have written papers on it, but it is still hard to fully grasp.
Not only the seemingly unnecessary evils of the world or the bad things that happen to the really “good” people. But also the amount of pure evil that exists. The unspeakable amount of sex trafficking and abortion, the atrocities of ISIS and Boko Haram. And these things are just things going on today, not to mention the rest of human history. Which brings me to two conclusions on the topic:
1) This whole middle and upper class American idea of “progress” makes me roll my eyes. Utopia will never exist on this earth because all of us are sinners in need of God’s grace. “Progress” does not exist when there are more slaves now than at any other time in human history.
2) I want to be honest and say I don’t know. I don’t have a fully satisfying answer as to why God allows so much evil and suffering to exist. I really don’t.
But I do know one very important and powerful thing. I heard one of my favorite authors/pastors Tim Keller respond to the question of why evil exists with the best explanation I have ever heard. He said,
“This does not give us an answer to the question of why God allows evil and suffering, but it does tell us what the reason isn’t. It can’t be because he doesn’t love us or he wouldn’t have come down and gotten involved. I don’t know the reason God hasn’t stopped [evil] yet, but it can’t be indifference or else he wouldn’t have gotten involved.”
Life is hard, and we have all to some degree felt the difficulties in this world. Whether it was a family member who died, or someone close getting cancer, or losing a job and being unemployed for a long season; we all face the question of why? But here is what I know:
Whatever the reason as to why this is happening, it isn’t because he doesn’t care. Because if he didn’t care he wouldn’t have come.
I love what it says in Hebrews 4:14-15,
Since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 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.
Why does God allow so much evil? I don’t fully know. But I do know that he cares, and I do know that just because I cannot think of a satisfying reason that there doesn’t mean there isn’t one. And perhaps that is comforting too, for if we could fully understand an infinite God, maybe he wouldn’t be so great after all.