According to the Bible, God is loving (1 John 4), just (Isaiah 6:3), and sovereign (Psalm 96:13). This informs the reader of two truths: (1) God is capable of preventing evil and (2) He desires to rid the world of evil and suffering.
However, if these two propositions are true, then why does God still allow evil and suffering? There is no simple explanation. Let me begin with a quote from C.S. Lewis:
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?
C.S. Lewis makes a good point. As moral creatures, we can distinguish between right and wrong. There is an innate desire for us to rid the world of suffering and for evildoers to be held accountable for their actions. But where does this yearning come from? I believe it’s because we are created in the image of God.
We are a reflection of God’s holy attributes of love, justice, and mercy. While the human race has sinned and distorted this reflection, there still exists a moral compass within each of us. Even if this is true, how does it explain suffering? If God is all-loving and powerful, can’t he just stop it all?
Well, yes and no. First, he created us with freedom of the will. When Adam and Eve were in the garden, He gave them choices to obey or disobey. They chose to listen to the serpent and therefore fell into a state of sin. Sin was transferred to the human race, for all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).
Since God created a world in which free will exists, people are given choices either to do good or to do evil. If people had no choices, we would simply be robots. Our fates would be predetermined and our choices would be illusory.
However, since God created a world where people have volition, it sets up a vulnerable world of bad choices. These bad choices are what causes human suffering and pain. But the good news is that God made a way for us to escape this evil.
He sent His Son Jesus to die on our behalf. Even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 8:5). When we repent of our evil ways and trust in Him, the Bible says we will be saved. Furthermore, God will give us the power to overcome sin in our lives and truly reflect the goodness of God.
If we want to see evil overcome in this world, it must start from within. For Scripture says that the two greatest commands in the world are: To Love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt 22:37). This fulfills the entire law of God.
Lastly, the Bible says there is a day coming where justice will reign on the earth. 2 Peter 3:13 states: “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”
Why does it seem to be taking so long for this to happen? Because God is patient with all of us, not willing that anyone perish but all come to repentance and faith (2 Pet. 3:9). He desires to grant forgiveness and mercy to all who have made bad mistakes in this life. Do you believe this truth? I hope so. Let’s pray