Custom CSS of Section contains Conditional Preview for See Life Campaign Elements

How Can God Allow So Much Evil and Suffering?

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
How could a good God allow so much evil? Why doesn't He do something about it? Couldn't God have created a world without evil?

Probably one of the greatest challenges faced by Christianity and Christians is the reality of evil and suffering. At times even great thinkers are baffled by the seeming contradiction between the existence of a loving God and the fact of evil.

Upon the death of his wife, C.S. Lewis wrote, “Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms … But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is in vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside.” C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (Bantam Books, 1961), p. 4.

Fortunately, Lewis came to grips with his grief and in the end realized that God not only exists, but that He is indeed all loving despite our sufferings.

Still, for Christians and non-Christians evil and suffering are often at the forefront of our minds, particularly when we ourselves are suffering. How could a good God allow so much evil? Why doesn’t He do something about it? Couldn’t God have created a world without evil?

These are important questions and while we cannot solve them all neatly in one short article, we can address evil and suffering and begin to offer some possible solutions to the seeming dilemma. 

The Problem of Evil

Solving the seeming contradiction between a loving God and the reality of evil is usually referred to as a theodicy. A theodicy attempts to solve the apparent tensions in what is often termed the problem of evil. But the problem of evil is really a series of problems. Like many large problems, sometimes it is helpful to break them down into their components. Evil, you see, actually extends not only to the moral world, but also to the natural world. When human beings do bad things to one another, this is moral evil. But so-called natural disasters are often considered evil as well because of all the suffering they cause. Earthquakes, tidal waves, floods, and so forth, are all examples of what might be termed natural evil.

What is Evil?

One helpful approach to solving the problem of evil has to do with defining evil. Christian thinker Augustine defined evil not as a thing in and of itself, but as a parasite on good. Something that is lacking is not a thing in itself. For instance, if you have a hole in your jacket, the hole is not something, but rather is something that is lacking. Similarly, Augustine considered evil something that is missing. Indeed, it requires good to exist because it is a parasite. In this sense, Augustine defined evil as a privation – a lack of something – rather than a thing or substance.

This solves some important criticisms. If evil is not an actual thing, then God cannot be the author of evil. God is the author of good, but we make moral choices that result in evil.

Does Evil Argue Against God?

Atheists, skeptics and other critics of Christianity often argue against God on the basis of the reality of evil and suffering. “See,” they say, “since evil and suffering exist, God must not exist.” Sometimes they will argue that God may exist, but perhaps He is a weak god, an incompetent one or even an evil one!

But do evil and suffering really mean that God does not exist? Some Christians have responded by turning the skeptic’s argument on its head. They do this by asking on what basis is something deemed evil? If there is some moral standard the critic is basing their position on, then the problem of evil becomes an argument for not against the reality of God. After all, in order to call something good or evil, there must be an underlying standard of right and wrong. Theists argue that this standard is rooted in God and His nature. We know His moral law exists so we recognize the reality of evil and suffering. But unless there is a moral standard, we have no real basis for calling anything good or evil.

Moral Evil and Natural Evil

As we noted earlier, there’s a difference between moral and natural evil. Moral evil is explained by the fact that human beings commit evil against one another. People lie, cheat, steal, hurt, and more. This does not argue against Christianity, but instead proves the point that there is something very wrong with human nature as it now is.

But what about natural evil? Couldn’t there be less suffering? Why doesn’t God stop things like earthquakes and tsunamis? Again, this ties into the broad Christian explanation of the human predicament. Paradise has been lost due to human moral shortcomings. As a result, we live in a fallen world, east of Eden. As a result, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22, NIV).

The good news is that although this is not the best world, it is the best way to the best possible world. Some day God will ultimately and finally overcome evil entirely.

Evil: Intellectual and Emotional

Before continuing, it will be helpful at this point to pause and explain another important point. Evil and suffering can refer to not only physical pain, but emotional pain, too. Consequently, there are differences in approaching the problem of evil depending on whether one is doing it intellectually, in a detached sort of way as we are doing in this article, versus ministering to those in need of compassion. In this sense, there is an intellectual way to address evil and also an emotional way to address it. Both are important and both require our attention, but there is a difference.

A World Without Evil?

But couldn’t God have created a world without evil? Let’s take a look at a few of the options. If God had not created anything, there would be no evil. But is nothing better than something? Hardly. This would be a world without morality. What if God created a world where people could not choose? God could force everyone to stop before they were able to carry out evil behavior. But is such a world where freedom does not exist good?

God knows best and, as such, He knows that our world is the best way to the best possible world. Yes, there will be evil and suffering along the way. We can rejoice with the apostle Paul when he wrote, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). 

Can God Relate to Our Pain?

Considering all the evil in the world, does God really care about us? Not only does He care, but He cares enough to have sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for us. Because of God’s great love and sacrifice, we now have a way to be reconciled with Him through Christ. This does not mean that we will no longer suffer in this world, but it does mean that we will spend eternity with God. There will come a day when God “will wipe every tear from” our eyes and, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things” will pass away (Revelation 21:4).

Dynamic CTA Template Below

Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
Emerson-Eggerich4-840w

Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Read More About:

You May Also Like

Stylized, close-up image of a woman, shown from the neck down, who is wearing a plaid shirt and reading a Bible
Faith

Discovering the Personal God

God is a personal being. He wants to be in relationship with you and He demonstrates this desire in many different ways. Treat Him as if He is a personal God and He will demonstrate His presence in ways you might never have expected.

Abortion

Walter Hoye: Black and Pro-Life

Walter Hoye joined the sidewalk counselors outside Family Planning Services for the first time on March 14, 2006. That very day, FPS called the police. No one was cited or arrested, so Walter and his friends decided to return every Tuesday morning.

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 5: It’s Going to be Amazing!

After a couple has chosen life, hear the heartwarming stories of children that culture would have cast aside, yet are making tremendous impacts in their communities. Whether the diagnosis was adverse or the circumstances were difficult, these stories will inspire you to come along side of families who have chosen life!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 4: Sometimes the Choice is Hard

Hear real life stories of parents who have made the decision to choose life even though the circumstances were overwhelming. You’ll see why “ALL” life is precious to God and why choosing life is always the right decision!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 6: Families Helping Families!

So, after all you’ve seen through the SeeLife ‘21 Episodic journey; what can you do now? We’ll share how you can partner with some amazing organizations that are making significant impacts in the pro-life movement! You want to Celebrate Life!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 3: The Power of a Picture

Have you ever wondered what a baby looked like in the womb? With today’s technology, Moms and Dads can see the baby’s heartbeat, facial expressions, and movements! You’ll find out why more women choose life once they hear their baby’s heartbeat and realize it’s a real living human!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 2: Heroes Providing Hope

Discover the amazing work our PRC’s Directors, Nurses, and Volunteers are making in their communities! You’ll see firsthand testimonies of a PRC in action, and that there are other options outside of abortions! You’ll also discover how your family can support your local PRC!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!