“How could a good and just God allow suffering and evil in this world?”
This is an age old question that challenges Christian faith during times of tragedy. Pastor and author, Timothy Keller, devotes an entire chapter to this topic in his book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. Atheists use this question as an argument against the existence of God. Surely if God were all powerful, he could put an end to the suffering that happens every day.
From the wife whose husband has abandoned her, to the parents whose child was killed by a drunk driver. From the father who just lost his job, to the millions of impoverished orphans who are starving in third (and first!) world countries. This thought has probably entered every one of our minds at some point in the midst of life’s toughest trials.
In his book, Keller provides examples from his parishioners who have suffered loss and tragedy:
Though none of these people are grateful for the tragedies themselves, they would not trade the insight, character or strength they had gotten from them for anything. With time and perspective, most of us can see good reasons for at least some of the tragedy and pain that occurs in life. Why couldn’t it be possible that, from God’s vantage point, there are good reasons for all of them?
God Intended It For Good
At the beginning of each academic year at Oak Hills, we choose a scripture to serve as the “theme verse” for the upcoming year. This year’s verse is Genesis 50:20, from the story of Joseph.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done.”
This passage demonstrates Joseph’s ability to trust in God’s goodness and providence in his darkest hour. Though Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, enslaved and imprisoned, he acknowledges that God used the years of suffering for good. Joseph was eventually elevated to power as Pharaoh’s right hand man where he saved thousands from starvation and forgave his brothers.
Believing in the unseen hand of God doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter evil, pain or suffering. God gave man free will, and along with that freedom comes consequences. It also doesn’t mean that you will necessarily be able to understand what God is doing. But it does mean that you can trust God is using the situation for good, even if you never come to fully understand it in your earthly life.
Keller sums it up:
So, if we embrace the Christian faith that Jesus is God and that he went to the Cross, then we have deep consolation and strength to face the brutal realities of life on earth. We can know that God is truly Immanuel - God with us - even in our worst sufferings.
Indeed, our perspective of life’s trials is limited, but God’s purpose is bigger than our pain. We must trust that God sees the big picture and is using each situation for his glory. We are living in a world that feels out of control, yet we can rest in the sovereign unseen hand of God. Back to Real Faith