This is a question that many Christians struggle with at some point in their lives. When we see suffering in the world, especially when it happens to good and innocent people, we wonder why God would allow such things. There are several perspectives from the Bible that can help us think through this difficult issue.
First, we have to recognize that we live in a fallen world. When Adam and Eve sinned, it allowed sin and death to enter the world (Genesis 3:16-19). All creation was affected, and now suffers under the curse of sin. Sickness, natural disasters, evil actions – these are all a result of living in a fallen, sinful world. God did not originally create the world with these problems, but He allows them to continue for now as consequences of the fall.
Second, God uses suffering to refine and strengthen our faith. Suffering produces perseverance, character, and hope in our lives (Romans 5:3-5). It reminds us that this world is not our home, and that our ultimate hope lies in the redemption that will come when Christ returns. God can use suffering and evil to accomplish His good purposes, bringing spiritual growth and maturity.
Third, suffering allows God’s power to be displayed. When believers endure terrible trials but maintain their faith and witness, it shows the power of God at work in them. Their endurance and character in the midst of suffering glorifies God and points people to Him (2 Corinthians 4:7-18). God allows His people to go through difficulties so that His power can shine through their weakness.
Fourth, God has compassion on those who suffer, and promises to be with them in their pain. Psalms 34:18 says “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” As believers endure suffering, they can be comforted that God feels their pain, cries with them, and will never leave them (Psalm 23:4, Hebrews 4:15). He promises to provide comfort, peace, and strength when we go through trials (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
Fifth, suffering forces us to look outside this world for hope and meaning. When we experience pain and tragedy, it reminds us that this world can never provide ultimate justice or make everything right. It causes us to look forward to the day when Christ will return, renew the earth, and establish His righteous kingdom (Revelation 21:1-5). The injustices of this age spur us to keep looking to our eternal hope in Christ.
Sixth, God can use suffering to draw people to Himself. He can work through hardship, grief, or tragedy to open people’s hearts to the gospel and the hope found in Christ. When people are shaken out of their comfort and self-sufficiency, they are more likely to recognize their need for God. So He can use pain and even evil to eventually bring about spiritual transformation (Romans 8:28).
Seventh, suffering allows us to participate in Christ’s sufferings. When we suffer for doing good, for righteousness, or for the faith, the Bible says we share in some of the suffering that Christ endured for us (Philippians 3:10, 1 Peter 2:19-24). Just as Christ’s sufferings had a purpose, so do ours when we suffer for His namesake. This gives us the privilege of identifying with our Savior in His pain.
Eighth, our present sufferings cannot be compared to the future glory. The Bible reminds us that no matter what we go through in this life, it is insignificant compared to the eternal glory, joy, and reward that awaits us in heaven (Romans 8:18, 2 Corinthians 4:17). Knowing that our pain is temporary and that eternity awaits helps us press on through affliction.
Ninth, suffering forces us to trust and depend on God. Times of pain and hardship give opportunity for greater dependence on the Lord rather than ourselves. They drive us to prayer and cause us to lean into His strength, comfort, and love like we never would have otherwise (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). Suffering makes us cling to God and grow in intimacy with Him.
Tenth, God only allows what He can use for His purposes or glory. The Bible teaches that nothing can happen without God’s permission (John 19:11, Job 1-2). While God does not cause all suffering directly, He does allow it. We can be confident that He has good purposes for everything He allows, even when we don’t understand it, and that nothing takes Him by surprise.
Lastly, God promises to wipe away every tear and make all things new one day (Revelation 21:3-4). The day is coming when Christ will return, evil and suffering will be eradicated, and those who have trusted in Him will experience perfect peace and justice forever. The privilege of being part of that eternal Kingdom makes our present troubles worthwhile.
In summary, while the question of why God allows evil and suffering may never be fully answered in this life, we can trust His wisdom and sovereignty. The Bible gives us perspective on how God can use suffering for good purposes and how He will redeem it in eternity. As believers, we can be confident of God’s presence in our pain, His promise to work it for our growth, and the hope that we will one day see His purposes fulfilled. Though it is difficult, through His grace our suffering can produce character, strengthen endurance, and draw us into closer relationship with Christ as we keep an eternal perspective and lean on Him alone.