Why does God allow evil and suffering? This question plagues every disciple of Jesus Christ. Often this is hurled as an accusation against Christianity. While the answer may not be emotionally satisfying, the Bible actually answers the question. But before I refer you to God’s Word, consider the reality of the issue; the worldview we employ to understand this question greatly determines our outlook. We have three options: We embrace a Naturalistic worldview and we see suffering as just something that is with no rhyme or reason. This perspective is embraced by materialists, atheists, evolutionists and others who see no transcendent reality. From this perspective life sucks and then you die! All we are in the final analysis is just a bunch of chemicals so suffering has no ultimate moral implication. A second view is the Eastern or Pantheistic view. This worldview sees ultimate reality in the oneness of all things and the Karmic cycle of reincarnation. In this view suffering is an illusion that must be transcended so that we embrace the fact that god is all and all is god. Suffering isn’t real because it is part of the physical illusion. The third view is the view taught in the Bible, namely Theism. The Biblical perspective is that suffering is a result and consequence of sin. We are fallen people living in a fallen world. Evil and suffering exist even though they are not part of God’s nature. God allows evil and suffering and uses them to accomplish His purposes. Jesus paid the debt our evil deserved and He suffered in our place. Through Christ we can triumph over evil and we can have the hope that one day God will judge evil and eliminate all suffering. For the Christian, suffering has redemptive purposes but is only temporary, because God will wipe away all tears and establish eternal righteousness and peace. Consider the following verses on suffering from the book of 1 Peter
1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
2:19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
3:17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
4:1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
4:15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name
5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
Suffering is always filtered through the love and purpose of God. Like the Psalmist, every Christian can say, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, God is with me.”
For greater clarity on this question and to learn how to answer when this is used as an objection against Christianity, go to: http://youtu.be/lsspSTXWan8