If God is Good...?

The most common question people say they would like to ask God is this: “Why is there so much suffering in the world?” Whether it is a typhoon that kills thousands or a serious illness in one’s life, it seems only natural to ask, “Why, God? If You are all-powerful and perfectly good, why do You allow these terrible things to occur?” The pain and suffering which pervades our planet causes some to question if God even exists and to conclude they want nothing to do with Him even if He does. I suspect that even the most devout Christians will at times find themselves crying out, “Why God?”

As we seek to deal with our own doubts and encourage others struggling with the “why” question, there are some important things we need to keep in mind.

1) People who are grieving often need our presence and support more than our answers. Someone asking, “Why would God let this happen?” after a spouse is killed in a car accident is probably not looking for a philosophical answer to the “problem of evil.” Loving hugs can sometimes be much more beneficial than even the most brilliant answers to questions.

2) We should not be afraid to speak when people are trying to reconcile pain and suffering with belief in God’s goodness. When people are hungry for hope and good news, it is foolish for Christians to remain silent. Biblical Christianity offers a far better answer to the problem of evil than any other religion or philosophy. For example, a consistent neo-Darwinian atheist believes that human suffering is simply natural. Since we are merely the product of chemicals which came together by chance, the death of a thousand human beings is not really any more tragic than the death of a thousand mosquitos. After all, from this viewpoint, the universe simply doesn’t care. As Christians, we have much more comfort and hope to offer than others.

3) We should not try to give others false comfort by saying a particular tragedy caught God by surprise, or that He tried to prevent it, but could not. Jesus is clear, (Matthew 10:29) that not a single bird dies unless God chooses to allow that to happen. The Bible says (Ephesians 1:11) that God “works all things according to the purpose of His will.” This means God has a reason for allowing every event which occurs, including trials and tragedies. We often don’t know what that reason is, but God does have a reason. He also assures us that His reason for doing so always includes both His glory, and the good of His people, those trusting in Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:28)

4) Human beings, not God, are ultimately responsible for the evil and suffering in this world. The Bible tells us that if there was no human sin, the world we live in would be very different. Under the umbrella of God’s sovereignty, we as human beings make choices for which we are responsible. When soldiers in Africa murder and rape thousands of women and children, it is not God, but those soldiers and their leaders who are to be blamed. This does not mean all suffering can be traced back to a particular sin. A baby’s severe heart defect is unlikely the result of a sin committed by a parent, grandparent or the doctor who delivered the baby. Human rebellion against God has resulted in a fallen world where little babies are sometimes born with defective hearts. The Bible tells us (Romans 8) that our entire planet longs to shake the effects of the curse it has suffered ever since sin entered the world.

Friends, it is often impossible to give a satisfying answer when someone is asking the “Why God?” question in the midst of suffering. However, if we keep these four truths in mind it will help us (and perhaps others) trust rather than blame God when difficult times come.
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Dan Erickson