“If God is so loving then why is there so much evil and suffering in the world?”
“Why do bad things happen to good people?”
“Why do bad people seem to get away with their evil acts, or they never have to pay a price for the bad things they do?”
There are at least four biblical principles and truths we should consider when attempting to understand God and the evil and sorrow that exists in this world.
One, we should understand that God is the Creator of all that is good. His intent in eternity past was to bring good to His creation which includes your life. The Bible clearly teaches us this fact in the book of Genesis where it is written, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.… (Genesis 1: 31a). The word “very” means “exceedingly;” whereas the word “good” carries with it the idea of not only “favorable, but pleasant, better, right, or best.” The suggestion here is that all of God’s creation was extremely good in every sense of the word. His creation was pleasant or delightful physically and spiritually and then entrusted to mankind.
This world we live in was originally created “good” for man’s benefit and God’s glory. This becomes evident when we read passages such as Genesis 1:26 – 27; 9:6; Ephesians 2:10, and understand we were created in God’s image for His purpose.
Two, we need to come to terms with the reality that suffering is the result of evil which came into the world through mankind. All suffering can be traced back to sin.
Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV) Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
James 1:13-15 (ESV) Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Three, the results of natural disasters and disease doesn't diminish God’s love for us. Unlike the teachings of Deist God is not distant and cold toward humanity. Some have the idea He simply began the creative process and left us without a care or thought for our well-being. The words of the Apostle Paul in Romans indicate something vastly different.
Romans 8:18-21 (ESV) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
When individuals ask;
“How can God allow such a thing to happen?”
“Why doesn't God end all evil and suffering; doesn't He care?”
We should remember that God could destroy all evil today and no longer allow suffering to take place like it did in Oklahoma on Monday. But let’s keep one thing in mind, for God to bring all suffering to an end He would have to destroy the source of evil and suffering which is mankind. The Scriptures teach us that God is long-suffering not wishing any to perish, and so He patiently waits because His timing is perfect. William Brown shares a wonderful story about an agnostic farmer that drives this point home in his book “Making Sense of Your Faith”.
There was a farmer in a Midwestern state who had a strong disdain for “religious” things. As he plowed his field on Sunday morning, he would shake his fist at the church people who passed by on their way to worship.
October came and the farmer had his finest crop ever—the best in the entire county. When the harvest was complete, he placed an advertisement in the local paper which belittled the Christians for their faith in God.
Near the end of his diatribe he wrote, “Faith in God must not mean much if someone like me can prosper.” The response from the Christians in the community was quiet and polite. In the next edition of the town paper, a small ad appeared. It read simply, “God doesn't always settle His accounts in October.”
Evidently Solomon had similar thoughts, note this particular rendering of Proverbs 20:30; “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.” I think this paraphrase from the Good News Bible accurately renders Solomon’s thoughts. Some may want to focus on a variety of words used in different translations such as, “blows, wounds, or beatings,” but the main thought is not on inflicting pain. The context is speaking of corporal punishment but with the idea of having one’s misconduct change direction. The writer of Hebrews conveys a similar thought with God chastising His children when they sin.
Trials and sufferings often draw us closer to God in holiness all the while building our character for His glory. I’m not sure who made this statement but I believe it to be true; “Pain-and-suffering can keep us from greater harm, greater moral failures, turn us toward God for deliverance, and equip us to live a Christ honoring life.”
Having a good life in Christ doesn't mean we’ll never experience hardships, heartache, or stress. If you’re a child of God keep this in mind; “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose, (Romans 8:28)”.