Q&A - If God is good and all-powerful, then why do we experience so much pain and suffering?

The implied assumption behind this question is either God is not good because He allows evil and suffering to occur or He is good, but just powerless to stop it.  Either of those options are pretty horrifying and leave us rather unsettled.  The answer to the question on why there’s so much evil and suffering is because we live in a world that’s in rebellion against God.   God is not the author of evil, but He allows evil and suffering to occur as a sign of the present world under judgment.  If there were no sin, then there would be no cancer, no random shootings, or any other form of suffering.  The fact that we long for a perfect world where there are no more tears and no more tragedies is evidence of our being created in the image of God and proof that our only hope is found in a right relationship with Him.

While it’s mysterious to us, God uses evil, sin and suffering to accomplish His purposes. Our understanding of life and God’s purposes in our life are often confusing and hard to interpret, especially when we are in the middle of challenging situations.  It’s tempting to think, “Why would God allow this to happen?”  While the question is understandable, I am convinced that all of those questions would make sense if we could see things from God’s perspective.  God has a purpose and as we read in Romans 8:28 – He works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  One illustration that sheds light on this reality is to think about a woven tapestry.  If you turn over the tapestry and look at the backside, it hard to discern the design or that this could in fact be a beautiful work of art.  In fact, there’s often random threads and loose ends hanging out that don’t make sense.  But turn it over to the front side and the design becomes clear.  A skillful hand has woven all of these pieces of thread together to make a beautiful piece of art.  One day we’ll see God’s purpose and plan and the senselessness of evil will make sense.  What’s senseless from one perspective, suddenly makes perfect sense when given the proper view.  The life of Joseph is another great illustration of this fact.  His life was one of a series of chaotic and challenging circumstances.  He suffered much at the hands of those who sought to do him harm, even from his own siblings.  In Genesis 50 there is a poignant moment where Joseph’s brothers are fearful that Joseph will repay them for their evil actions.  But Joseph responds in v. 20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”  Only near the end of his life was Joseph able to see the ways in which God used hardships to bring about something good and beautiful. 

Finally, if we come with a sense of humility, this question should drive us to a deeper understanding of the Gospel.  Jesus was betrayed by His own people, condemned to death by the Roman authorities, and hung on a cross in what appeared to be a senseless evil act.  Yet it was through his death and sacrifice that He redeemed us from our sin and reconciled us to God. What appeared as a senseless tragedy is the greatest news for all humanity.  Moreover, His death and resurrection is not just an example of good coming from evil, but a guarantee that one day He will return.  His second coming will be one where sin and evil are finally vanquished and the new heavens and new earth are ushered in.  We read of this reality in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  The existence of evil and suffering no doubt assaults our faith while we live in this world.  But God’s Word draws us to a deeper reality and hope where crying, mourning and pain no longer exist.  God’s Word convinces us to see that He is good and in control and sovereignly orchestrating all the events of this life to accomplish His purpose and to make us more like Christ.