If God Is So Good, Why Is There So Much Suffering?
Why does a good God allow suffering? This is one of the most significant questions people ask both inside and outside the Christian faith. This question is for many why they don’t become Christians. Recent surveys show that the most commonly stated reason for unbelief among Millenials and Gen Z-ers was they have a hard time believing a good God would allow so much evil or suffering in the world.
Suffering by definition is “mental or physical pain or misery.” It is a level of discomfort that causes a person to be somewhat or completely debilitated physically, mentally, or spiritually. This is not some mild discomfort or emotional discouragement. While mild and or emotional discomfort can certainly affect our outlook on life, suffering is something by its definition is life altering.
We do see God perform amazing miracles in the Bible. These miracles include healing that you see throughout the Scriptures, but especially with Jesus and the apostles. In fact, everyone that came to Jesus, and asked to be miraculously healed, got healed. Blind eyes and deaf ears opened, diseases like leprosy eradicated, and even people that died were raised from the dead. This is undeniable evidence that God cares about people’s suffering and is willing to do something about it.
Then on the other hand you see untold suffering where it appears that God isn’t listening or doesn’t care. An example is the Hebrews going into Egypt during a severe famine, but in time become slaves to the Egyptian rulers that last over 400 years.
We know that prayers of deliverance were answered when God sends Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh to demand he let the Israelites go. And in the story of the Exodus, one dramatic miracle after another, that forces Pharaoh’s hand and he relents and sends the Hebrews away. The culmination being the parting of the Red Sea, where the children of Israel walk on dry ground and when the Egyptians follow, the sea comes on them and they drown.
You say “well God is a good God because the Israelites came out of slavery by a
slew of miracles and eventually end up in the Promised Land.” Ah, yes, that is true, but remember that took over 400 years. What about the generations of people who prayed and prayed, but died in the years prior to the Exodus? Those Hebrews suffered and never saw their deliverance.
Probably the most puzzling of all stories of suffering is Job. In the first two chapters of the book named after our main character, we see a discussion in Heaven between God and the Devil. Essentially it is about Job and his fierce devotion to God. The Devil tells the Lord if you took away His protection, then Job would renounce his love and trust in God.
God tells Satan to go ahead and test Job. In the first test all of Job’s animals are stolen or destroyed, farm hands are killed, and to add insult to injury, all of his children die at once.
This would be enough to send anyone into a complete breakdown of hopelessness. Then there is a second test where Job’s health is destroyed. This is suffering to the max. I know of no one who has ever suffered to this degree. It happens because of a bet between the Lord and the Devil. No wonder people question if God is a good God.
This issue of suffering has a theological name: theodicy, or the problem of why God allows pain. Candidly there is no real perfect answer to this dilemma. But this is my response to the question of a good God allowing suffering. IT IS A MYSTERY! Some answer Bob, but it is the right answer.
Look, if you counted up all the miraculous scenes in the Bible, they would number dozens upon dozens. The greatest miracle is Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. This proves beyond doubt that the Lord is a good God, because anyone, no matter how bad they are, can have all their sins forgiven in an instant. That my friends is undeniable proof of a good and loving God. Yet it still doesn’t answer why God allows so much suffering.
I found a powerful example of how we as believers are to approach God when faced with suffering in our lives. In the book, Prayer in the Night a woman whose infant son was going into surgery, turned to her husband and said, “We have to decide right now whether God is good, because if we wait to determine that by the results of the surgery, we will always keep God on trial.”
So here is my conclusion. God is good and yet allows suffering. Both are true. So it remains a mystery. We Christians like exact answers as clear as one plus one equals two. But candidly our faith isn’t always that nice and neat.
But I will tell you this. When we accept Jesus as our personal savior, die, and go to heaven, that is where there will be no more suffering. Then the mystery will be solved, forever.