Why does God allow evil in the world?
Why does God allow good people to suffer?
I could easily take the time to give you a biblically sound reason for suffering and evil in the world.
My personality lends itself to doctrinal and theological correctness that is far removed from emotions that could muddy the waters of my carefully crafted exegesis. But the hundreds of people and families suffering today would find no comfort in my reasoning. Too often I am quick to offer answers instead of comfort, a logical reply instead of a listening ear, an unshakable mind instead of a broken heart.
Instead of weeping with those who weep, I attempt to logically explain why their suffering is a part of God’s plan and how they will come out the better for it.
You see, in short, the biblical answer for the existence of evil and suffering is sin. That doesn’t mean we suffer because of personal sin, but original sin brought on when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.
Now, all those who are suffering, you have your answer, and you can find hope and comfort in knowing that God has given you understanding into the reason for your suffering and the evil that has caused it. Look no further, God has made it clear.
Let’s be honest, that’s insufficient for those who just lost spouses, parents, children, grandchildren, and best friends in the Las Vegas shooting. Is it the correct answer? Yes. Is it following the example of Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5? Not at all.
Paul says, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NLT).
Being equipped is not just having the right answers. It is having the right response at the right time. Sometimes, the best response is silence. It is listening to the excruciating sounds coming from the depths of a broken heart, even when we know what is being said is theologically inaccurate. (Let’s not be so quick to judge those whose theology is temporarily shaken by inconceivable hardships. Remember, muscle can only built by breaking down existing muscle. God may very well be allowing this to strengthen their theology.) We find this exemplified by God when he rebukes Job’s friends and says, “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:7).
Take some time to read the theological inaccuracies Job makes about God and ask yourself, “Why would God say Job spoke accurately about him?” There is an element of suffering that causes our theology to bend beneath the weight of human reasoning -our feelings take over our logic -and God understands this. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus, our high priest, “understands our weaknesses.” Jesus himself struggled with tough questions. While on the cross, he cried out, “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46). He doesn’t just understand our physical and spiritual weaknesses; he understands our mental weaknesses as well. He knows that we are finite beings, doing our best to grasp the big picture only he can see.
We look with scorn at Job’s friends while being guilty of the same misconduct. They had answers for all of Job’s questions and illogical babbling, but they never once offered comfort to their friend, and God rebuked them for their heartlessness (Job 42:7-9).
Believe me, I understand lasting comfort only comes from the truth of God’s word, but don’t forget the words of Solomon, “Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket” (Proverbs 25:11).
In the wake of this awful tragedy, I would encourage you not to get into political debates that are already rearing their ugly heads. Don’t try to reason with the skeptics who are just looking for an argument; there is a time for this, but now is not that time. Let those around you find the embracing arms of Jesus and listening ears of the Father who loves them beyond their comprehension.
Pray for those who are suffering from the loss of loved ones. Pray for those who will never outlive the horrific scenes they witnessed. Pray that God will send the right people to come alongside them, who will offer hope, comfort, and (when the time is right) answers.