How can a loving God allow suffering?

There is no simple answer to this question. All of us go through suffering in our lives, and many people suffer greatly. The Bible shows us that God hates evil and pain yet could remove it in an instant. The big question is over why he doesn’t.

Suffering exists because of our rebellion against God. As a race we reject the author of life, and the just consequence of this is an existence to some extent shut off from that life in a fractured world where disasters, disease and death are commonplace. The mystery according to the bible is therefore not so much “why does suffering occur?” but “why is it proportioned as it is?” And our inability to grasp this does test our faith. But we can keep trusting God nevertheless, because his wisdom, love and power is so clearly seen in Jesus who was willing to enter our suffering world in order to rescue us from it.

The fact is, it would be absolutely just for God to leave us to endure the world we have brought on ourselves. Yet contrary to what many think, he does not do so. Not only does he give us all more happiness than any of us deserve, he has also entered our suffering world, suffered himself, and commissioned his people to seek to alleviate suffering now. Most importantly, he has acted in Jesus to put an end to suffering once and for all, for Jesus’ death and resurrection enable us to receive eternal life in a world finally free from evil and pain – if only we turn to him.

So God does not simply “allow suffering,” but through Jesus has done what is necessary for us to be rid of it. Yet our suffering world remains for the present, because God wants to give more people the chance to entrust themselves to Jesus and so enter the world to come.

(Genesis 3:1-24, Matthew 5:43-47, Romans 8:18-30, Revelation 21:1-8)