Today we tackle the big question: If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving then why does He allow suffering and evil?
Why God Allows Suffering
If God is all-powerful…
What exactly does that mean? Are there things God cannot do?
Now when God made his promise to Abraham, since he could swear by no one greater, he swore by himself.
(Hebrews 6:13 NET_FL)
…so that we who have found refuge in him a may find strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us through two unchangeable things, since it is impossible for God to lie.
(Hebrews 6:18 NET_FL)
So apparently God cannot swear by any higher than himself and God cannot lie. Does this mean He is not all-powerful? No. It means that God cannot do something that would be nonsensical or not logical. So He cannot swear by any higher because it’s against the very nature of God. If He could swear by greater then He would not be God. Likewise, if He could lie He would not be sinless and hence no longer the moral compass of all creation… which is His nature.
Along these lines, the Bible teaches that God is love and that He wants us to Love Him (the Greatest Command). Love requires a choice. If love is forced, then it ceases to be love, by its very nature. So for love to exist, choice must be allowed. If choice exists, then bad choices will be made and evil will happen. If evil happens, God must atone for it on the cross… because He loves us. So God must allow evil to happen to allow love and atonement to happen.
“Since God is the highest good, he would not allow any evil to exist in his works unless his omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil.”
― Augustine of Hippo
The cross transforms evil into good.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 ESV)
This implies that bad things will happen. But it also assures us of ultimate victory. God can empathize because He has suffered ultimately for us.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
(2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV)
Paul calls his extensive suffering… light momentary affliction. This is about perspective. He also sees it as beneficial to his preparation for glory.
This is ultimately the point. We see with very small eyes in comparison to eternity. God’s view is so far beyond ours it can be too hard (or in Job’s words… too wonderful) to understand.