This is one of the most common questions among atheists (no belief in God), agnostics (belief in a higher power, but no defined God) and sadly even some proclaiming Christians. The answer to this question, at the highest level, is because God is good and we are not (due to the sin that we choose to commit, mankind has been separated from God… everyone and everything in the universe is decaying and dying). However, if you want a more in-depth explanation, keep reading.
To get a better understanding of why there is suffering if God is good, we must first look at things at that higher level. Are we capable of looking at things as God does? Not entirely, no. But what we are capable of understanding is what God has revealed to us through His Word, the Holy Scriptures (the Bible). And to a person who is truly open to hearing God’s Word and considering it, a whole lot of logic and sense comes pouring out when we start to understand what it is that He wants us to know (Romans 10:17).
To answer any question of this sort, you should first go to God’s Word. I not only recommend that you fact check everything I say (and everyone else who teaches or preaches the Gospel), against God’s Word, I urge you to! Prayer and reading God’s Word should be what guides you into the truths of God. With that being said, let’s get into the basics of the Gospel and the human condition, which is what needs to be understood before answering the question of why God allows suffering.
The Human Condition (Sinfully Depraved and Condemned)
God is Love (John 4:16, 1 John 4:8) but God is also Perfect (Matthew 5:48, Psalm 18:30, Hab 1:13) and Just (2 Thessalonians 1:6, Deuteronomy 32:4, Isaiah 45:21) in every way. The biggest problem mankind has had with God throughout history is that God is good and we are bad!
Being good, God is not a dictator. He could force everyone to do what is right, but then he’s made a race of robots. If you created a bunch of robots, you might enjoy them for a time, but after a while you would get tired of them. Afterall, they aren’t even capable of loving you. He wants us to Love Him… to love what is right. But he doesn’t force us to. He wants us to CHOOSE to love Him.
Whether you care to admit it or not, you do things that you know in your heart are wrong. Some will realize that and accept it as unchangeable, without a problem. Others, while they also realize it is unchangeable, will desire to be better… to desire what is right and to feel convicted of their wrong-doings). However, we are all sinners. For example, you know you have told lies. You may have told one TODAY (have you)? And you know that, one way or another, whether intentionally or unintentionally, you will again in the future many times. That is one of many sins that we have all committed (Romans 3:23). Just ONE sin is all it takes for us to be guilty before our perfect God.
That sin, that every one of us commits, has brought on death (Genesis 2:17, Romans 6:23). Because of our sin, we are already condemned (John 3:18). But this is not only physical death, it is also spiritual death. In the Scriptures, “death” always means one of two things, depending on the Greek or Hebrew word that is used.
a. the separation of the soul from the body.
b. the separation of man from God.
Death never denotes non-existence. Never. Our souls are eternal. And our sin brings on both physical death (a.) and spiritual death (b.)
However, it is the spiritual death, specifically, that answers the question at hand.
It is because all of creation is ruined from sin (Isaiah 6:5 etc.).
But what is truly amazing is that God loves those who love Him so much, that while we’re sinners, He came to earth, fully God and fully man, lived a perfect, sinless life and defeated that very death for those who desire what is right and have Faith in Christ (the Living Word).
The righteous, just Judge, stepped down from the seat of judgment, took off His robe and by His unbelievable Grace, paid the penalty for all who would accept it (John 3:16, Romans 5:8). A FREE GIFT to all who will accept it by Faith, through Grace, in Jesus Christ, the Living Word!
Now, though suffering is a result of sin, God uses the suffering of the world in many ways to awaken people and cause them to think eternal thoughts and not temporary thoughts! No matter what anyone is going through right now, whether it’s good or bad, it is temporary! Our lives on this earth … our health (or lack there of) … our money (or lack thereof) … our knowledge (or lack there of) … our belongings (or lack there of) it is all temporary! But our souls are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
In many ways, suffering reveals the heart. It will either cause you to love and embrace the temporary world, the very source of the suffering, or it will force you to look further and desire to know those eternal things, which are revealed by God to those who desire it (Acts 17-27).
And those who do that, will be rewarded with unbelievable, ETERNAL glory in the very presence of God Himself, through His Son Jesus Christ, who died for us!