How many times have you heard this question: "Why does God allow good people to suffer?" or "If God is so good why doesn't He get rid of the devil and all the evil people?". I personally heard it many times and it comes from false assumptions. In this article, I will answer these two questions by using some scriptures from the bible. May the Lord open our ears to hear His words!
Why Does God Allow Suffering
Why does God allow suffering? This is a question I hear very often, not only from the world but from genuine Christians. It usually goes like this: “if God is good why does He allow good people to suffer?”. Another question is: “why doesn’t God already get rid of the devil and all the bad people so we can live in peace?”. I believe there seems to be a lack of information or misinformation among Christians when it comes to this subject.
Just by pondering on these questions, we can already see how loaded they really are. One thing is for sure though, these questions show that deep down, human beings know there is something wrong with this world. We want to explain it and we cannot just by looking at it from a human perspective so the first reaction is to question God and ultimately blame Him.
Underlying Assumptions Behind the Questions
At first glance, it is pertinent to search out the underlying assumptions behind these questions. What do people mean when they ask these questions?
“If God is good, why does He allow good people to suffer?”
This first question has some truth in it. We know that God is good and Holy. Jesus Himself said the Father is perfect. So knowing that God is good, why does He allow good people to suffer? The answer to this question lies in the wrong assumption that people are good.
Jesus Christ clearly said that besides God, no one is good (Mark 10:18). He also said we are inherently evil people who know how to do good things (Matthew 7:11). Therefore, we are not good people who do bad things, we are bad people who do good things.
In order to understand the good news, we have to understand also the bad news. We are not good people, in fact, we are in a fallen state since the disobedience in the garden, we fell from the presence of God and therefore we lost our perfect standing. Everyone on earth is born into that state of sin and death and unless we are born again into the Spiritual Kingdom of Christ, we are all on our way to hell and eternal destruction. This is the hard truth.
Knowing this, it is precisely because God is good, that judgment comes on the disobedient. It is because God is good that suffering has come to the world.
“Why doesn’t God get rid of the devil and all the bad people so we can live in peace?”
This second question is frequent and also implies we are inherently good but as I said, according to the Word of God, we are not good people, we are rebellious kids, all of us, no one is good.
If God gets rid of the devil and all the bad people, there would be no one left, we will all be doomed. No one will be left on earth to live in peace. In this state of sin and death, God sent His Son to die for us so that we through Him might become justified. It is only through Jesus Christ that we can be reconciled to God if we repent and believe.
After we are reconciled to God through the sacrifice of His Son, after we receive the Holy Spirit and begin to walk the hope of salvation, does that mean we become good? Yes but only because of Him, not because of anything us, there is nothing good in us. After we become righteous because of His righteousness, does God allow us to be tempted and to suffer. That is the new question we have to ask ourselves.
Why God Allows Suffering
So the question now is: after we are saved through faith, why does God allow suffering still? We are therefore not talking about unbelievers but about true born-again believers.
Firstly, it is important to know that God does not cause our suffering. He allows it, that is different. God Himself does not tempt (James 1:13) and does not torment, this is not His job, this is the job of the tormentors, the demons who in reality are fallen angels. However, God removes His shield sometimes to test the faith of His children.
With God being both omniscient and omnipotent, in that sense, anything bad that happens to us, God knows about it beforehand and it’s in His power to prevent it if He wanted to. This is clear from scriptures
Matthew 10:29-30 – Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
That doesn’t mean He is an evil God, it is precisely the contrary: God allows trials so that we grow in faith. This is all over the scriptures. Opinions don’t matter, it is the Word of God that matter, so if someone wants to argue against this, there will be a lot to explain in the scriptures. It is not by preventing trials that God provides rest but it is through and in the midst of trials that He provides that rest. That is gold refined by fire.
To begin understanding this, one can start by reading the book of Job in which it’s clear that Satan has the role of prosecutor and accuser. Every time Satan would present himself in front of God, he would demand access to Job which God would allow willingly. This was a test that Job had to go through. When Job’s friends told him that God was punishing him because of his wickedness, Job defended himself. God approved that this test was not because Job was wicked but because Job was a man whose heart was after the Lord.
Look at this verse from 2 Chronicles:
2 Chronicles 32:31 – And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land, God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.
This reality extends to the New Testament and comes even from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Matthew 6:13 – And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Matthew 4:1 – Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil
Also please read what Jesus says to the apostle Peter:
Luke 22:31-32 – Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
So you see God sometimes removes His Spiritual shield to allow temptation to come from the dark side and all this is for our benefit. Jesus Christ prayed for Peter to the Father so that his faith may not fail during these testing times. Jesus knew that Satan demanded from the Father access to Peter. This indeed can be a shock to people even to Christians.
Here are some other interesting scriptures:
1 Corinthians 5:5 – you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
1 Timothy 1:20 – among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
So again, why does God allow us to be tempted by the devil? It is because He loves us, it is because He wants us to trust Him in the midst of these tribulations, it is because He wants to know to see us grow in faith to be better suited for His Kingdom. God prunes the branches that are in Christ, this is how pruning is done by enduring temptation, this is how gold is refined by fire (John 15:2).
My friends, why does God allow suffering? it is because we are in a spiritual warfare and because this will prove the quality of our faith. Welcome to the real world!
It says in Revelation 12:11 – And they have conquered him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
If we have to conquer the devil, that means we are in direct conflict with him and we have to conquer by the blood of Christ and by the word of our testimony. We have to be prepared to love Him more than our lives. We are at war, we have to pick up our shield of faith my friends.