Top 10 Questions People Ask About the Christian Faith:
How Can There Be a Good God When There is So Much Evil and Suffering in the World?
Believers and non-believers alike often wonder why there is so much evil and suffering in the world.
For non-believers, this tends to be a rationale to not believe in God or that God is good.
For those who believe in God, the question causes us to delve deep into what we believe about good, evil, and Jesus.
“How can there be a good God when there is so much evil and suffering in the world?” is a valid question and should not be easily dismissed or given a flippant answer.
The answer is not a contradiction for God to be good and to have created a world where evil and suffering exist. Both are true.
God is good. And evil and suffering exist.
As we strive to answer this question, it is important to recognize both of these truths up front.
We never want to minimize the suffering of others or downplay evil’s existence when defending God.
Whether you use this as a reason for not believing in God or do believe but doubt His goodness, this blog is for you, and I sincerely hope this article is only the beginning of your search for truth.
God Didn’t Create Evil
The very first thing you need to understand is God did not create evil.
In fact, God hates evil.
“For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.” -- Psalm 5:4-5
When God created the world, he did not create evil. He created man and gave us a choice. Love always allows choice.
As a result, He made it possible for man to choose good or evil.
Unfortunately, sin entered God’s creation with Adam and Eve, and humans continue to be sinful.
Hence, the need for grace and mercy.
We Can’t Understand Good Without Evil
Another truth we must accept is we simply can’t understand good without evil.
The whole existence of opposites depends on their other halves.
For instance, how would we recognize when things were good if we didn’t understand when they are bad?
Likewise, those who refuse to believe in God because there is evil in the world must question why they recognize good and evil in the first place.
As Randy Alcorn explains, “If you argue that evil is evidence there is no God, you must also admit that good is evidence there is a God.”
People Suffer in the Bible
A hard thing for many to acknowledge is how our view of suffering is limited by our circumstances.
For instance, Americans’ view of suffering is vastly different from those who suffer in third-world countries. However, that is not to say we are not suffering.
Instead, it is important to recognize the suffering you are facing is not new and a part of life.
The Bible is filled with people who suffered and still chose to trust in God’s goodness and faithfulness.
Consider Jesus. Jesus suffered worse than anyone in the Bible. Not only did He suffer, but His crucifixion is truly one of the cruelest acts ever committed on earth.
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:3-5
What Was Meant for Evil…
It is also wise to understand that God often uses what is meant as evil for good.
Take Joseph, for example. His brothers sold him into slavery out of jealousy, but when reunited, Joseph said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:20).”
There are many stories in the Bible where God turns evil into good.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
This type of transformation continues to take place today.
We hear stories where people overcome horrific situations and are stronger and wiser.
This is not to say God wanted these people to suffer, or even to suffer for this reason, but it does prove God is good and gracious.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5
God is Compassionate
We know God is good because He is compassionate.
There are numerous stories and passages that declare God’s compassion for His people.
When God became flesh, in Christ, and walked among men, He extended compassion to those who suffered, such as the bleeding woman who touched the hem of his garment.
When Lazarus passed away, Jesus wept.
He understands our suffering and grief, but He doesn’t manufacture it.
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept.” – John 11:33-35
Further Resources for Those Still Pondering the Question
Finally, this is a difficult subject for many, and our understanding is so limited.
We do not see the whole picture as God does.
We are not all-knowing as God is; therefore, we must trust!
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” – Isaiah 55:8-9
We encourage you to continue pondering this question. You may find the following books helpful in your search for truth:
The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
If God is Good by Randy Alcorn
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis