Posted by: Tim | October 21, 2009

That’s a Good Question #3 – Why would a good God allow suffering?

Here is my third Christian Apologetics article , which appeared last month in the Three Hills Capital newspaper. Feel free to add you comments below.

That’s a Good Question #3

Why would a good God allow suffering?

It must be admitted that this is perhaps the toughest question we can ask about God and Christianity. Suffering is real in this world, and it touches us all personally in one way or another. This subject is too great to be covered in one short article, but I hope these brief words below will encourage you in the pain you may face, and challenge you to be part of God’s answer to the question of suffering in comforting and helping those in need.

There are many different causes of suffering in our world today, and it must be noted that there are some problems that we actually do have the ability to solve. For example, we recognize that many people in this world are suffering from malnutrition or lack of food. We also recognize that there is enough food in the world to feed them.  The problem is not the world’s food supply, but that the people don’t get the food, maybe due to political corruption, maybe due to human greed, or maybe due to other human failings. We could tell similar stories about diseases for which we have the cure, yet people suffer due to medicine being unavailable to them, even though the costs would be minimal.  We could add to this list many wars of pride and ambition, many accidents caused by our own negligence, and even some sicknesses that result from our own poor health choices.  Is it fair to lay the blame solely on God, when we have responsibility in matters like these?

However, there is much suffering where individuals are innocent bystanders. For the workers who died in the World Trade Center back in 2001, for the families who were ripped apart by the tsunami in 2004, or when a loved one dies prematurely, we are left wondering how a good God could allow this to happen.

The Christian message is that God sent His Son Jesus into the world to face terrible suffering and death by crucifixion, placing suffering at the heart of Christianity.  Jesus suffered despite having done no wrong, and despite being God in the flesh. While we may not understand the suffering we face, we can be comforted in knowing that God did not exempt Jesus from suffering, and that Jesus understands our pain in a personal way. As happened with Jesus, God can use suffering for a greater good, which is not always clear at the time. His purposes are greater than ours, yet often hidden from us, until we look back and see that things did indeed work out for a greater purpose.

As a pastor I have the privilege of walking with families in the most difficult circumstances. I have found over and over, that when there are no human answers, Jesus is enough. I have seen families face death and pain with a peace and deep comfort that can only be understood in light of Jesus.

We do not have all the answers right now to the question of suffering, but we do have the promise that God cares and will one day make our world new, without pain, suffering and death. In His goodness, God invites us to be His agents of healing in a suffering world and to trust Him not only in our joys, but in our sufferings. He has given us Jesus, who is the answer to suffering, when no other answer makes sense.


  1. […] #3 Why would a good God allow suffering? […]

  2. I would like to know whether you have read Dr. Bart Ehrman;s book “God’s Problem” ? This is why he became an agnostic, Please me know when you do, thanks,. Ben.

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