Why does God allow evil in the world?

Question: : If God is all-powerful, why does he allow evil in the world?

Answer: It is impossible to give a complete answer to your question because it delves into an area of knowledge that is beyond, apparently, what finite minds can understand. Let me direct you to a couple of articles on our website that deal in some ways with this issue and then I’ll try to give you an answer.

How can there be a hell if God is love?
Why doinnocent children suffer?

The Scriptures tell us that God made things good, that no suffering occurred in the world as it first came from His hand (Genesis 1). But with the introduction of Adam’s disobedience God deemed it necessary to change the way the world worked. For example, he kept Adam and Eve from eating from the tree of life in the garden so they wouldn’t live forever (Genesis 3:22) and subjected what should have been the most rewarding aspects of their lives (childbirth and work) to pain and suffering. I believe He did this out of love and out of justice.

Justice demanded that He impose consequences for disobedience. After all, He had provided everything we needed and we foolishly, ungratefully and rebelliously chose to try to do things our own way and maintain control, so we thought, of our own lives apart from Him. Love demanded that He not let us live lives of comfort and thus never feel a need to move toward Him, when in fact He is the one we need the most. If I were trying to help my child grow into a self-sustaining and loving adult, the worst thing I could do is let my child get away with things I know would hurt him and warp his development. I could guarantee that he would grow selfish and with a feeling of entitlement that would be destructive to himself and others.

There are undoubtedly other reasons God introduced suffering into our world. For one thing, we need to learn to care for those who suffer in order to learn what it means to love people. Secondly, we need to see what people are capable of doing to others in order to examine our own hearts and see the power for evil that resides within, so that we don’t think we’re different from “evil people” or that we don’t need rescue and forgiveness as much as they do. And there are other reasons that perhaps we don’t have the capacity to understand. But if we trust that God knows what He is doing better than we do (and that shouldn’t be hard since His knowledge is infinite and ours is so limited, but in fact it is hard because we arrogantly think we know better than He does) then we can trust that even though we can’t fully explain the reason for evil and suffering in this life, He can and He knows it is important for it to happen this way.

So the answer to your question is that God’s omnipotence (all power) is not really the issue when it comes to suffering. He could, He has the power, to stop all suffering, but He does not want to, obviously, because He knows it serves a greater purpose to allow it.

Randall Johnson


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