Why does God allow suffering? Why is there so much evil in the world?
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – May 26th, 2019
- In this world there is great pain, suffering and injustice. How can a “good” and “all-powerful” God allow all this suffering, pain and evil in the world? One person remarked, “God allows terrible suffering in the world. So, He might be either all-powerful but not good enough to end evil and suffering, or else he might be all-good but not powerful enough to end evil and suffering. Either way, the all-good, all-powerful God of the Bible couldn’t exist.” If the bible is true when it describes the nature of God, then what’s the point of allowing all this evil and cruelty? How are we to cope and process all the pain, agony and misery?
- These questions are both philosophical and personal – philosophical in looking at and processing the world, and personal when the pain, suffering and injustice happens to you and to those you love. I am going to give some biblical guidance for us this morning that should help us to understand, have perspective and give answers to these questions that I trust will be helpful to you and to those you love.
God has given us the power of choice
- God has given us this gift in creating creatures that can have a real relationship with real responsibility that stem from real choices. He did this out of His love through His wisdom. This is what we read from the opening pages of Genesis (this is selected verses from chapter 1).
Gen 1:1; 28; 31 ESV
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth . . . And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” . . . And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
- In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth He made mankind “in His image” and gave us a mandate to fill the whole earth and subdue it, and gave us dominion over what He had created. God saw everything that He had made and behold, it was very good.
- God gave us, His “image bearers,” responsibility and also a restriction.
Gen 2:15-17 ESV
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
- The responsibility was to work and keep the garden and the world. We were to take what God had given and work and keep it. God also gave us a restriction – that we were not to take from a very special tree planted in the garden – it was the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil.” We were innocent but could become accountable if we trespassed and did not follow the good plan of our Father. God did this out of His wisdom and love.
- We gave into temptation when we believed a lie about what God had said and about who He was. In doing so, we brought death and destruction into the world. We corrupted His good design.
- Most of the evil and suffering in the world comes from our fallen nature and our corrupt choices.
Mark 7:20-23 ESV
“What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
- All that has defiled the earth has come from our hearts. We are defiled and we defile the earth and each other. God gave us over to these things because He gave us the choice to choose them.
Rom 1:28-32 ESV
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
- God gave us over to what we wanted: our earthy nature is bent toward evil and God gives us over to it. Because of this, there is suffering.
- So we also have to address the question, “What about things that just happen, natural disasters, birth defects and the like?” Not only is there evil that stems from our actions, but because of our actions the whole creationas been corrupted.
Our evil choices have corrupted creation
- Why is this so? Because God gave us dominion and creation is affected by our choices.
Rom 8:19-24 ESV
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
- The earth has been “subjected to futility” it is in bondage to decay. This world, as wonderful and beautiful as it is, has been cursed and does not function how it was originally designed. Therefore, we have all kinds of disasters – which get stronger and stronger over time. The same is true with our bodies . . . all creation groans and waits eagerly for redemption. Some things just happen because we are in a fallen world. These things don’t happen because God is punishing us.
- Jesus made this clear when He was questioned about evil in the world.
Luke 13:1-5 ESV
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
- Jesus’ response was that these people were not worse sinners than anyone else and that these things happen in the world. We should really be aware when the real judgment takes place – and to repent our sins.
- In addition, there are supernatural forces of evil in the world that are actively working against us.
Eph 6:12 ESV
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
- These beings are working against God and against His creation to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10) all the good that God has created.
There is and will be retribution, reward, and redemption
Matt 12:34-37 ESV
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Rom 2:6-11 ESV
He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.
2 Cor 5:10 ESV
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Rev 22:12-15 ESV
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
- God is not impartial to suffering and evil. It is abundantly clear that there will be an accounting for all that has been done on the earth. This is both restitution and reward. And we have been given opportunity to make our choices, we have been given opportunity to repent and receive the grace of God.
- This is what we have to look forward to:
Rev 21:3-5 NIV
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
- The old order of things will pass away, He will make everything new!
- Until then we are to:
- Put to death therefore what is earthly in you (Col 3:5-11).
- Take up the whole armor of God and stand firm (Eph 6:13).
- Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt 5:44-48).
- Seek to do good, rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, (1 Thes 5:15-18).
- Fix your eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Heb 12:2-3 NIV).