Why does God allow pain and suffering in the world? Did God create suffering and evil? Why do bad things happen to good people?
There are two kinds of people who ask those questions: One, is the person who wants an intellectual answer. But for most people, it’s because they’re in the midst of suffering, and honestly, they don’t really want an academic answer. They want Jesus. They want someone to be like Jesus to them. They want someone to put their arm around them and to weep with them, to encourage them, to pray for them; that’s what they really need.
I’m careful when I answer this question not just to focus on the academics, but also on the personal side. There is hope and there is a Father who loves us in the midst of what we’re going through.
God did not create evil and suffering. The Bible says God created and it was very good. But God, because He wanted us to be able to love him and love other people, had to give us free will. Because love requires a choice: either to love or not to love.
My kids when they were little had one of these Barbie dolls that had a string in the back and you pull the string and it would say, “I love you.” Did that doll love them? No, of course not. It was a robot, a puppet. It was forced to say that…that’s not “love.”
In order for us to be able to love, we have to have the choice not to love. So, God gave us free will, and guess what? We chose not to love, we chose to walk away from God. We chose not to love each other.
I can take my hand and I can feed you if you’re a hungry person. Or I can take a gun and shoot you. But it’s a little disingenuous to blame God if I take the gun and shoot you. We have brought evil and suffering into the world.
Did God create suffering and evil? No, but He did create, through giving us free will, the potential for that to come into the world. But He didn’t leave us in the midst of that without hope. He sent Jesus Christ into the world to redeem humankind and if we put our trust in Him, we know that God will open up heaven for us. There will be a day where there is no suffering, where there are no tears. God offers an eternity with Him in a perfect state without suffering.
God says, “I can take the difficulties of your life and I can draw good out of them.” Romans 8:28, we like to throw that around, but the truth is that’s a promise of Scripture. It’s true.
God can draw people into the kingdom through suffering.
He can sharpen our character through suffering.
We can learn perseverance through suffering.
There are things that are positive that God can cause to emerge from the suffering in our lives. That’s not to say that suffering is good. It’s not, suffering is hard. But when we have trust in Christ, we know there is a future of hope.