Summary: From the day we are born, life is filled with troubles. How could a God of love allow tragedy, pain, and suffering?
I heard a story of a man who was on his deathbed. He was slipping in and out of a coma for several months, yet his wife faithfully stayed by his bedside every single day. One day, when he came to, he motioned for her to come nearer. As she sat by him, he whispered, eyes full of tears, “You know what? You have been with me through all of the bad times. When I got fired, you were there to support me. When my business failed, you were there. When we lost the house, you stayed right here. When my health started failing, you were still by my side. When I got shot, you were by my side. You know what?”
“What dear?” she asked gently, smiling as her heart began to fill with warmth. The ailing husband said, “I think you’re bad luck!”
From the day we are born, life is filled with troubles.
• There are those days where everything goes wrong. Maybe you are having one of those right now, and you wonder, “Why?”
• A tsunami strikes Southeast Asia and thousands die and we wonder, “Why?”
• A terrorist strikes and hundreds are killed or injured and we wonder, “Why?”
• Or a friend is driving home when they are hit by a drunk driver head on. The friend is killed and the drunk driver survives, and we wonder, “Why?”
• Or a loved one close to us dies.
• Or we get cancer.
“How Could a God of Love Allow Pain, Tragedy, and Suffering?”
A Barna Poll asked, “If you could ask God one question and you knew He would give you an answer, what would you ask?” The most common response was, “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?”
If you are sharing the gospel, it won’t be long before someone asks, “How could a God of love allow tragedy, pain, and suffering?” C.S. Lewis said that the “problem of pain is atheism’s most potent weapon against the Christian faith.” More people point to the problem of evil and suffering as their reason for not believing in God than any other. It is not merely a problem; it is the problem.
So, why does God allow tragedy? If God can prevent such terrible tragedies, why does He allow them to take place? Here’s the classic statement of the problem: Either God is all powerful but not all good, and therefore He doesn’t stop evil—or He’s all good but not all powerful, and therefore He can’t stop evil.
The general tendency, of course, is to blame God for evil and suffering, transferring all responsibility to Him. So let’s look closer at the core question: If God is so good and loving, why does He allow evil?
The first part of this question is based on a false premise. People who express those words are essentially suggesting (or saying outright) that God must meet their own criteria of goodness. But who are they to set standards for God? When did they become the moral center of the universe?
God isn’t good just because that’s my opinion of Him, or because I personally agree with His words or actions. God is good because He says He is! Jesus said, “No one is good—except God alone” (Luke 18:19 NIV).
God is good, whether I believe it or not. He and He alone is the final court of arbitration. As Paul said, “Let God be true, and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4 NIV). And what is “good”? Good is whatever God approves. And it’s good because He approves it! “That’s circular reasoning!” Well, maybe, but everything begins and ends with God. I think of it more as biblical reasoning.
In Isaiah 1:18, God invites, “Come now, and let us reason together” (NKJV) or “Come, sit down, let’s argue this out!” (MSG). You see, God’s thoughts are above our thoughts. There’s no higher standard of goodness than God’s own character—and His approval of whatever’s consistent with that character. So God is good. Period.
Now let’s come back to the second part of the question. Why does He allow evil?
Remember that mankind was not created evil. In their original state, Adam and Eve were innocent, ageless, and immortal. But from the very beginning—from the time that God gave life to Adam and Eve, man has had the ability to choose right or wrong. He made his choice (and then his choice made him!).
Had man never sinned, there would have been no resulting curse. But now it’s too late. Romans 5:12 says, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.”
The point to keep in mind here is that humanity—not God—is responsible for sin.