One of the biggest objections many people have towards God is; ‘How could he allow evil in this world?’ or ‘How could he allow children to suffer?’
This often is expressed in anger, possibly after contemplating a close to the heart, profoundly disturbing memory or recent event about something incredibly evil that happened.
This is an absolutely valid question! Why does God allow suffering?
Jesus often would answer questions with another question. There can be something profoundly helpful in changing the way we think about things!
Let’s ask ourselves this question; ‘Why should a Holy God allow me, a sinful human being to live?’
On our short journey to answer this question, we’ll find an answer to our former question. Let’s for a moment remind ourselves of who God is!
He is eternal, omnipresent, and omniscient. He is triune, preeminent, Holy, righteous, and sovereign! He is humble, loving, merciful, and at times can be jealous. He is slow to anger, he hates wickedness and after much long-suffering and patience, unleashes wrath. He is gracious, unchanging, joyful, peaceful, patient and kind. He is good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. He is just! He is also personal, and relational, and incredibly interested in us. God is also far more than all this. He is inexhaustible! Who can understand him?
Why should a Holy God allow me, a sinful human being to live? The simple answer is – he shouldn’t, but he does.
With fists raised towards heaven, in anger people protest that God is unjust! Many people would protest against murders and rapists, but where should God draw the line? Should God judge evil on the murder level, the lying level, the thought level, or the deep inward intentions of the heart level?
Truth be told – our biased, weightless, relative opinion about where God should draw the line is irrelevant. What does God say? The bible says God will judge us according to all of these. So why does God allow children to suffer under the hand of murderers and rapists? For the same reason he allows thieves, liars, people who have evil thoughts, and others who have evil intentions at heart. We’re all in the same boat! We are all guilty, and all of us deserve judgement.
But let’s remind ourselves of this. God is slow to anger, and he is long-suffering. This is to our advantage. Yes suffering is horrible, but the alternative is worse. Most parents will allow their children to suffer a little, if it means they will benefit later. For example, many parents immunize their children so that they will be more resistant to certain diseases in the future. This involves suffering. Other parents allow their children to undergo surgery, so that their child will live.
God allows suffering, because he isn’t willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3). God wants to save as many human beings as possible from eternal prison (Hell)! The ramifications of this decision inevitably mean that people suffer for a little while.
But in the midst of suffering, we have hope! God has promised that there will be a resurrection of the dead! He will wipe away every tear from our eye (Revelation 21). There will be no more mourning, or weeping – only joy in the presence of God.
Paul when he preached in Athens, Greece (Acts 17) said; “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”