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Why is There Evil and Suffering in the World?

Updated on June 22, 2015

Evil and suffering? Left unanswered these questions can become the reason for rejecting God. We can't know every reason, but, God did give us free will, and because of our sin nature people make mistakes. God's creation had to be a place where evil is a possibility.

Our choices are sometimes at fault. The choices we make can affect not only us but also our family, friends and others. The Bible makes it clear suffering can be a result of God's discipline in our lives. No discipline seems pleasant at the time. However, later on most discover it was for their benefit.

We can see persecution of the church caused many Christians to flee and scatter. Wherever they wound up they preached the word, and the Good News was spread throughout the world.

We may not know the reason for suffering in a given situation. But we can be assured, as true believers, it's for our benefit.

Is it possible some may utilize this issue to deny there is a God? Certainly, however if we reflect on the matter it becomes obvious the issue of evil and suffering is an argument for the existence of a good God. In other words, evil is only defined by an objective standard. It's the knowledge Jesus died for us at Calvary, and our sins are forgiven. Atheist and evolutionists have no such standard.

Does God Cause Evil?

The book of Job gives us insight into this question.

"But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips" (Job 2:10).

So, the answer is a resounding no. God is good, the Bible clearly teaches this, therefore God couldn't be the source of evil. Many have pondered these questions throughout the ages. If only we would take a serious look at what the Bible teaches. No pain or suffering has ever come to us that God's heart hasn't experienced.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Could it be there are no good people? God sometimes causes suffering in order to bring about a greater good. None of us deserves the life we have. It's a gift from God. Christianity is the only religion or worldview having an answer to evil and suffering. We are living in a fallen world which God will restore in heaven.

Does God Hear Our Pleas?

Yes, God does hear.But more often than not, God doesn't answer our pleas immediately. Even though this might seem to be the case, it's not He hasn't heard our prayers. It's just He may decide we need to learn patience. We need to persevere. God hears our cries. In fact, He knows our requests before we even ask. God answers prayers according to His purposes.

Do People Deserve to Suffer?

We may not be be directly responsible, but in a sinful world both good and evil people will suffer. As Christians God promises us suffering on earth will one day come to an end. We must remember suffering is a result of sin. God's purpose is to use it to conform us to the image of Christ.

Lessons from Job

God called him "blameless." However, his life became filled with physical, mental, and emotional suffering. It was enough for him to consider death over life. But during his trial he began to realize God still loved him and was providing for all his needs.

Why Do Good People Suffer?

The Bible tells us in Revelation 21:4 there is coming a time when all sorrow, tears, pain and death will pass away.

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

However, for the time being, we must face the fact people do suffer. It may not make any sense to us why God allows suffering at the time. Many ask, "If God is so good and loves us, why doesn't He put an end to all suffering?"

The Beginning

There was a time when suffering didn't exist. When God first created Adam everything was perfect. There was no sickness, pain, or sorrow. It was God's plan for man to live in peace and harmony for eternity.

According to Genesis Chapter 3, it wasn't until man chose to rebel against God, that sorrow entered the world. Man sins against God in Genesis 3:6-7, and God reveals to Adam and Eve the consequences of sin in Genesis 3:16-19. God told Adam and Eve they would now experience sorrow and death. By this we can see suffering and sorrow we experience today doesn't come from an unjust God, it's simply the consequences of sin. We suffer because we are sinners.

Yet many so-called Christians today continue to ask, "I didn't do anything wrong. How can I be a sinner?" We are all born into sin, inheriting it from our first human parents Adam and Eve.What does God accomplish by allowing us to suffer? If man hadn't strayed from God's plan there would be no sorrow, suffering or death. In the beginning these things didn't exist.

God doesn't enjoy it, but does allow people to suffer for various reasons. Sometimes God allows tragedy in order to demonstrate our need for Him. There are many who would still be lost if God had not allowed some tragedy to get their attention.

The Bible is filled with examples where God uses suffering to reach people. Just as any responsible parent disciplines their children, God disciplines us.

Many suffer needlessly today because they refuse to confess their sins and repent. God's people have always been persecuted, so it should come as no surprise when it happens. The apostles considered it an honor to suffer persecution for their Lord.

SufferingTeaches Us Vauable Lessons

Not all suffering Christians are disobedient. Why does God allow them to suffer? If we believed some popular conceptions today, we could blame it on a lack of faith. However, the Apostle Paul didn't live in sin or lack faith, but he suffered nonetheless.

Sometimes God uses suffering to make us stronger so they will be better equipped to comfort others. As we have learned there are many reasons God allows suffering.


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    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      3 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      If you read what I wrote, nowhere do I give a definition of evil. However, you do make some impressive points on the subject. I have been an objective news reporter for many years and I sincerely try to remain unbiased. From looking at your remarks about my hub, I see you are an accomplished writer. No, I welcome any constructive criticism, as long as no one tells me I am a lousy writer!! LOL

    • Titen-Sxull profile image


      3 years ago from back in the lab again

      Your hub is an interesting attempt to reconcile the problem of evil but here are a few parts I have to disagree with.

      “evil is only defined by an objective standard. It's the knowledge Jesus died for us at Calvary, and our sins are forgiven”

      This definition of evil you give doesn't seem to make much sense and I'm wondering if you left out a sentence or two actually defining evil. Because to me it looks like you are saying: Evil – Noun – The knowledge that Jesus died for us at Calvary and our sins are forgiven. I don't think its your intention to call what Jesus did to forgive sins evil.

      “Atheist and evolutionists have no such standard.”

      This is patently false but before I delve into why I'd like to draw a distinction between the term objective standard and the term absolute standard. An standard of morality that arrives at moral facts which are based in objective reality is not outside the reach of secular morality but an absolute system is as is a dogmatic objective standard. I could point out that, in point of fact, those who follow the Bible have no ABSOLUTE moral standard either.

      This is easily demonstrated when we contrast the Biblical God's morality and the beliefs Christians tend to have about that morality. If God and Jesus are the standard of good, if their behavior is the most morally upright and their example is to be followed by mankind than slavery is morally acceptable, so is genocide as long as God is doing the commanding. God directly condones slavery and sets up the rules for it when talking to Moses in Exodus 21 even telling Moses the Israelites are permitted to beat their slaves, pass slaves onto their children, etc.

      Now if you say “God was just playing along with the morality of the time” congratulations, you've just obliterated your objectivity. Or if you say, “It was a different time and a different culture, you can't judge them by our standards” than once again you are being morally relativistic – the exact thing you accuse atheists of.

      To excuse the immoral stances and behaviors of God in the Bible almost always believers employ moral relativism of, “well its right for God to do it because he created everything and everyone.” You can't have it both ways – either God is the objective moral standard and law giver or he isn't. I don't know about you but during my time as a Christian this made me feel very uncomfortable, guilty even, about excusing such heinous behavior but the fear of punishment for my doubts kept the conflict at bay for a time.

      Now on to the definition of evil. Atheists, such as myself, understand that something is not wrong because some authority somewhere says so. In fact if divine command is all that makes something wrong you are not even practicing morality, merely obeying an authority that many believe you are not allowed to question. Rather from my view things that are wrong MUST be wrong for a REASON. That is to say murder is not wrong because it is prohibited by the state, or by someone's god, but rather that murder is wrong THEREFORE it is prohibited by the state and by many religions. Evil/wrong behaviors can be defined as those that cause objectively verifiable harm to the physical, social or psychological well being of a person or group of people while providing no benefit or extremely limited benefit. Standards of well-being CAN be objective, especially where physical harm is concerned. And a good behavior would be the opposite, a behavior that benefits groups or individuals with as few negative consequences as possible.

      The secular moral system I propose here would use objectively verifiable standards of well being AND be arbitrated by reason and empathy to judge the intentions and consequences of behaviors to determine whether they are morally acceptable or not.

      “So, the answer is a resounding no.”

      The answer is no only IF you do not take into account other parts of the Bible that contradict this notion, such as Isaiah 45:7 “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.”

      Other translations render disaster as calamity or evil. Does God do evil things or cause disasters that unleash human suffering? If you believe Isaiah the answer is yes.

      “The Bible tells us in Revelation 21:4 there is coming a time when all sorrow, tears, pain and death will pass away.”

      This was written almost 2000 years ago, any reasonable rational person would look at such promises with skepticism and doubt in the forefront of their thoughts. Of course religious faith insidiously bypasses such natural healthy doubts as do fantasies that everything will work out like flowers and butterflies in the end. Of course I could also point out that this promise applies only to the faithful, for the vast majority of humanity in Revelation there is only an eternity of pointless, endless, torturous suffering ahead. The promises of your God to most humans is that we shall NEVER cease to suffer. It is a vile and disgustingly anti-human doctrine and one that flies in the face of any notion of justice or mercy put forth in other Bible passages.

      Read just a few more verses, to Revelation 21:8 and you will see, the cowardly, unbelieving, liars, magicians, thieves, murderers and the sexually immoral are all going to the Lake of Fire. Another verse in Revelation says the smoke of their TORMENT ascends up FOREVER AND EVER.

      “Sometimes God uses suffering to make us stronger so they will be better equipped to comfort others.”

      And what of the people who do not recover, who merely suffer, wither and die? What of a Muslim child starving in Africa but who happens to be above the Age of Accountability (Age of Accountability is not actually in scripture at all but just so there is no doubt that this kid is destined for Hell I mention it). The Bible says his fate, after God and his fellow human beings left him to starve and die here on Earth, will be everlasting fire.

      No Christianity is not a morally sound belief system, much of it rests on fundamental misunderstandings of nature, of human nature, and of the concepts of justice, fairness, and human decency. This is why people must cherry pick out the good parts, people emphasize the Love Thy Neighbor passages but do not mention the “put every man woman and child TO THE SWORD” passages.

      As moral agents we must use reason and empathy to navigate the moral landscape of our lives, with bumps and curves and gray areas galore. Absolutist morality is just as dangerous as relativism and I believe the best answer lies in secular systems which emphasize our natural compassion and ability to reason. The answer to the problem of suffering, than, is not that there's a god out there who will one day sweep up after our mess but that it is up to us to clean up our own act. But of course in Christianity there can be no self-redemption and that is one of many reasons why Christianity is a morally bankrupt anti-human philosophy.

      Despite disagreeing with you I have thumbed up your hub in hopes that you will not shy away from conversation or criticism of your ideas and if you're interested I have a recent hub on this very subject.


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