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Why does God allow evil and suffering to exist?

Why does God allow evil

Why does God allow evil and suffering to exist?

This is a good question because so many people ask it. It probably ranks as the top 1 or 2 questions that people raise when discussing the challenges of faith. It is also a good question because it seems to be at odds with the idea that God is good, loving and all powerful.

Since the Bible teaches that God is good (Psalm 31:19), loving (1 John 4:8), and all powerful (Jeremiah 10:12-13), the first thing that we need to acknowledge is that God does allow evil and suffering to take place. He is not powerless to stop it but for some reason he has chosen to allow it.

The second thing that we need to do is to divide the question into its parts and address each issue separately as the answers to each have a different starting point. We will begin by looking at the problem of evil and then consider the presence of suffering in a follow-up article.

The possibility of evil dates back to the early days of creation. The Bible teaches that God, who is good, knows what is evil. "The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." (Genesis 2:9) God's knowledge, however, is not like ours. We know things by experience. He knows about evil simply as a contrast to his character and his will.

God did not create evil, but he did create choice. He didn't have to make the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but he did. It seems that he made it for the express purpose of creating an opportunity for our obedience. "And the Lord God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.'” (Genesis 2:16-17)

Choice and obedience are indicators of love. By virtue of who we are and what we are capable of, God never intended to create puppets or robots. He created beings in his own image, capable of a relationship rooted in love. In order to demonstrate love, however, we must have the option of not loving or even of disobeying. "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:121) Ironically, the possibility of evil (something that God was well aware of) is a requirement of love.

Much more can be said about evil in the world, but instead of spending too much time lamenting it everywhere in the world, let us first be concerned about the propensity for evil that exists in every one of us. Let us also realize that every evil thought, however large or small, includes a choice. We can choose to disobey God and carry it out or we can choose to pursue God and seek the path of love.

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The experience of suffering can be found throughout human history, but the best place to start ..... (to be continued)