It’s a question that has been asked for thousands of years: why does God allow suffering and evil?

If God is good, why are there natural disasters and cancer and car crashes and every other type of suffering? Why doesn’t God just eliminate evil from the world? Wouldn’t that be the best thing to do?

These aren’t just abstract questions. They’re deep issues that weigh heavily on us when we’re in the midst of suffering.

And while the Bible doesn’t answer all our questions, it does shine some light on the issue of why God allows suffering.

Where Does Evil Come From?

The Bible makes it clear that evil and suffering were not present when God created the world. In Genesis 1:31, we read,

“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”

When God looked on the world He created, He saw that it was all very good. There was no sickness or suffering or evil or death. Adam and Eve lived in perfect harmony with the rest of creation and they had intimate fellowship with God.

Then Satan entered the Garden of Eden and tempted Eve to eat fruit from the one tree that God had forbidden. Adam and Eve both ate from the tree in direct disobedience to God. In response to their sin, God brought a curse upon the world. Death and disease and trouble and tribulation would now be a part of life.

In Genesis 3:17-19, God said to Adam:

Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.

In Romans 5:12 we read,

“...through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

Evil and death came into the world because of Adam’s sin against God. The world is not as God originally intended it. It is under the curse of sin, and because of that curse we experience pain and suffering.

Pastor Adrian Rogers said:

"No matter your occupation or station in life, you’ll be working among thorns. And your body, like the apostle Paul’s, will find a thorn in the flesh. The thorns Jesus wore spoke of the hardship, sickness and suffering we all experience because something happened to creation (Romans 8:22). Death always accompanies sin."

God Is Sovereign Over Suffering

Nevertheless, God is sovereign over all suffering and evil. In other words, God is in complete control of them. Nothing happens without God expressly allowing it to happen.

In the book of Job, God ordained exactly how much Job would suffer.

Satan could not do anything to Job beyond what God expressly permitted. For example, in Job 1:12 we read,

“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.’”

God had a very specific plan for Job’s life. The suffering that Job experienced was not an accident. God ordained that Job would suffer a precise amount and no more.

It’s very important that we understand that God is in control of every aspect of the universe, including all suffering and evil. We don’t live in a Yin and Yang universe where good and evil are equal in power and in a constant battle against each other. The God who is good rules over everything and nothing happens without Him allowing it.

In Isaiah 46:9-10 God says,

“For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.’”

Everything that happens in the world is part of God’s plan.

Helpul Tools and Resources on Who God Is

The Bible brings us up close and personal with God. It speaks directly to the question, “Who is God?” In this post, we’re going to walk through some of God’s attributes and try to get a sense of who God is.

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God Uses Suffering and Evil For His Glory and Our Good

We can’t know all that God is doing through suffering and evil but we can be sure of one thing: God uses the pain we experience both for our good and His glory.

As it says in Romans 8:28,

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

God uses every trial and struggle and difficulty for good in our lives. We may not be able to see how God is using something for good but we can be absolutely confident that He’s at work.

Joseph is a prime example of God using evil for good. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and he spent years in prison before he was finally made an official in Pharaoh’s court. When he finally confronted his brothers, he said to them, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

What Joseph’s brothers did to him was incredibly evil. Nevertheless, God used their evil actions for good, both in Joseph’s lives and in the lives of many others. That’s how God works. He can take even the worst circumstances in our lives and use them for good.

If you’re in the midst of suffering right now, take heart. God hasn’t left you. Your suffering is not pointless. God is using everything you’re experiencing for your good and His glory.

Suffering and Evil Will End

A day is coming when all suffering and evil will be brought to an end. When Jesus comes back, He is going to destroy sin and Satan and suffering. Death will be eradicated and the Lord will create a new heaven and a new earth. There will be no more sorrow or sadness. All that is broken will be healed.

Pastor Adrian Rogers said:

"Well then, you ask, what is God going to do about all this evil and suffering? God is not going to destroy it. God is going to defeat it! How?

There were two gardens: the Garden of Eden with its first Adam, then the Garden of Gethsemane and the Second Adam. The Lord Jesus, the very Son of God, took sin upon Himself, carried sin to a cross, and died for it. When Jesus returns again, the curse will be lifted. Hallelujah! All of creation, waiting with outstretched arms, will be changed."

In Revelation 21:3-5 we read:

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Pain and suffering will not have the final word. God is making all things new. Tears, death, sorrow, crying, and pain will all pass away. We will dwell with God and experience great joy in His presence.

Suffering With Hope

Knowing that God is sovereign over suffering, that He uses it for our good, and that it will someday end allows us to suffer with hope. We may not know all the reasons why God allows suffering and evil, but we can be confident that our loving Father is doing good things in our lives.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says:

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

God’s ways and thoughts are not like ours. He works in ways we wouldn’t expect and through circumstances we would never choose. We can sing along with the classic hymn:

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

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