Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Hurricanes.
Tsunamis. Embezzlement. Rape.
Murder. Cancer. Arthritis.
Diabetes. Parkinson’s disease.
There’s just a whole lot of bad stuff going on in this world, and it can make it awful hard to believe in a good God, a God of love and mercy.
Some of us really have to come to terms with evil before we can fully believe in a God who is good.
God is not the author of evil. God created a perfect world in which humans lived in complete harmony with him. But he also gave them freedom of choice. In exercising that freedom, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God (Genesis 3). And it was through that act of disobedience that sin entered the world.
Now, the Bible says the penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23). So sin is like an inherited disease. We are all born with it and our bodies will ultimately die from it. But sin affects more than just our bodies. Sin affects everything around us. Plainly put, the world is in a state of decay because of it.
All sickness, pain, injustice, and death result from sin. So why doesn’t God intervene? Why doesn’t He just put an end to evil by eliminating sin? The fact is He has done just that! God sent Jesus Christ to take the penalty for our sin and break the cycle of death. His death in our place bought forgiveness for all who believe in him. In addition, God gives us his Spirit to live inside us and help us break free from the chains of sin.
We will all still suffer because of the presence of sin—whether it’s from our own wrong choices, the choices others or the result from a living in a fallen world. But when we suffer we can remember that Jesus Christ underwent the ultimate unjust suffering when He died on the cross at Calvary. He was the only human ever to live without sin, but he took on himself all the pain and evil that has ever been known in the history of the world (1 Peter 2:19-24).
Many still choose not to believe in Jesus, but the Bible says a day is coming when those people will be punished. Wrongs will be righted and God’s perfect justice will be meted out. When Jesus Christ returns, all those who have put their faith in him will go to be with him forever. But those who have persisted in sin by rejecting him will go to eternal punishment. But God is patient. He is waiting because he loves everyone—even those who deny him. He wants everyone to have a chance to receive forgiveness (2 Peter 3:3-9).
Jesus said his Father’s plan is like that of a farmer who planted a wheat field but whose enemy came and planted weeds in the field. The farmer chose to let the wheat and weeds grow together until the harvest. Then it would be clear which plants were weeds and which were wheat, and they could be easily separated (Matthew 13:24-30).
Our loving and caring God actually uses hardship to serve a useful purpose. Imagine if we all went happily about our business without God—but without pain. Then, when we died, we would discover our rejection of God had earned us eternal punishment. The suffering that results from evil is like a symptom of a disease that sends us in search of a cure.
God often uses hardship to make people who are busy with their own pursuits aware of their need for him. When we realize we can’t deal with our circumstances, we go in search of a God who can. The apostle Paul saw suffering as an opportunity to prove God’s strength. He wrote, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me…For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Adapted from Where Is God When Bad Things Happen? by Dr. Luis Palau, Doubleday, 1999.
Question: Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
Question: Did God Create Evil?
Question: Why is Their Evil and Suffering?