I believe everyone, Christians and non-Christians alike, encounter this question at least one time in their life: If God is so good and loves us then why doesn’t he get rid of all the bad stuff? After all, the Bible makes it clear that God absolutely despises sin. So, why does He allow sin to exist and for bad things to happen?
I believe we need to start this discussion by stating that suffering wasn’t in God’s original intent for the world. He created man to commune with Him in a paradise called Eden that He declared good (Genesis 1:31). It wasn’t until Adam and Eve committed the first sin that we saw death and suffering in the world. Through this sin the world was cursed (Genesis 3:17). In Romans 8:20, we are also told that the sum of creation “not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it” was cursed, affirming that “ground” in the Genesis 3 passage was a reference to the Earth in its entirety.
So why does God allow suffering now? I did touch on the answer to this in Why Was the Tree in the Garden of Eden?, but I will now elaborate on how that relates directly with suffering. God wants us to choose to have a loving relationship with Him, (John 6:40) and if we choose a loving relationship with Him we will turn from our sin. What kind of choice would it be if we weren’t able to make that decision in the first place, though? If God prevented us from sinning, being that sin causes suffering, the only option left would be to follow Him. This leaves us with the sometimes unfortunate side effects of others’ actions. So while God could stop us from causing misery, ultimately it is through us that suffering exists.
While some suffering is directly at the hands of mankind, we do also have natural disasters and diseases. At first glance it can appear that these are not a result of our actions, thus pointing to God as the instigator. When we look back at the first sin in Genesis, how life was before that sin, and what has come from sin entering the world, though, we can see that isn’t the case. As we have established, in Genesis 1:31 God said that His creation was very good. This signifies a world that is without disease and natural disaster. We don’t see any of those things until after the world was cursed by Adam’s betrayal from committing the first sin.
In short, God allows us to make the decision to obey His commands or not. When people make the unfortunate choice not to adhere to His guidelines laid out in Scripture, they bring suffering into our world. The good news, though, is that if we have a loving relationship with Christ, we can one day join God in a creation that is devoid of suffering. We endure our suffering now, but we are only building up our wealth in Heaven for when we pass on into the next life (2 Corinthians 4:17).
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome this world.” – John 16:33