rebelling against low expectations

How Can a Good God Allow Evil and Suffering?


News has been circulating recently about shootings, terrorist attacks, injustice, and world chaos.

In recent days these types of events have become more and more common. With events like these occurring more frequently, one objection to the existence of God seems to tower above all the others: How could a good God allow evil and suffering?

This question is not exclusively asked by the intellectual or the philosopher, but is a query that is common to every class of people. If God is really there, why is this happening? Whether it’s a personal struggle or a senseless act of evil, our first instinct is to ask, “Why?”

Entire books can be and have been written on this subject, so by no means is this an exhaustive or complete explanation. Although this is not complete, I will briefly explain some of the most helpful points I have heard in regard to this subject.

Evil Is Evidence For God’s Existence, Not Against It

How can evil be evidence for God? You might be thinking, “If evil is evidence for the existence of God, that’s not a God I want to believe in. If God is really good and He really exists, He wouldn’t allow such things to happen.” Well, hear me out on this.

Sin is a term we are all familiar with, but sin is not just another term for evil. The biblical definition of sin is falling short or missing the mark. Missing what mark? Falling short of what? What is the standard? Man certainly is not our standard. Man fails time and time again, but we all recognize a standard that transcends mankind and to which all of mankind is accountable.

If someone does something wrong, we don’t compare them to another human being and say, “So-and-so wouldn’t do that, so you shouldn’t either.” We appeal to a higher standard that goes beyond our own authority.

So what’s the standard? The standard is the perfect character of God. Sin is anything that “falls short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) God is the measuring stick. C.S. Lewis talks about this in his book Mere Christianity, saying,

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

We call something unjust because we have an instinctual standard of true justice. We call something evil because we have intuitive ideas of true goodness. Whether we realize it or not, when we are calling something evil we are comparing it against the standard of the character of God.

So the problem with our argument that evil is evidence against God’s existence is the fact that without God’s existence, we would not even have a standard to determine if something is good or evil.

Evil Is Evidence Of God’s Absence From Our Lives

“Evil is not evidence of God’s absence in the universe but evidence of His absence from our lives.” – Dr. Rice Broocks

Dr. Rice Broocks says in his book God’s Not Dead that there are primarily three worlds God could have created. He calls them Control, Chaos, and Cooperation.

The first world, Control, is a world where humans are robots with no ability to do wrong. Humanity has no ability to choose, we only have “programmed goodness.”

Chaos, the second world, is a world where God remains completely absent. There would be no consequences for anyone’s actions. Essentially there would be no right and wrong.

Lastly there is Cooperation. The third way God could have created the world is one where He gives mankind free will to choose. He gives us a set of rules and standards to help keep us from harming ourselves, but we are not forced to follow them. That’s what makes us human, our ability to choose. This third option is the world we live in.

Our next question then becomes, “So why doesn’t God just destroy evil?” Well, Dr. Broocks says it this way, “God could get rid of all of the evil in the world in a moment. All He would have to do is kill everybody.” Evil is in us. We carry the virus. Evil exists because we perverted God’s creation through our free will. But God has provided a way to remove the virus, so that He can destroy evil without destroying us. That way is Jesus.

So evil is not evidence of God’s absence in the universe but evidence of His absence from our lives. It’s evidence of our lack of cooperation. If we’re looking to point the blame, we ought to take a look in the mirror.

I Don’t Know

Senseless acts violence and injustice are just that… senseless. They don’t make sense. Why didn’t God intervene? Why would He allow natural disasters? My answer—I don’t know.

That’s it, Luke? You don’t know? That’s not very helpful. I agree, it’s not. But I would much rather tell the truth than try to make something up to sound smart. Although this is the case, listen to what Timothy Keller says in The Reason For God about this subject:

“Just because you can’t see or imagine a good reason why God might allow something to happen doesn’t mean there can’t be one. Again we see lurking within supposedly hard-nosed skepticism an enormous faith in one’s own cognitive faculties. If our minds can’t plumb the depths of the universe for good answers to suffering, well, then, there can’t be any! This is blind faith of a high order.”

Many have walked away from God because they are angry that He has allowed them to go through suffering or because of the evil they see in the world. Timothy Keller responds by saying this:

“If you have a God great and transcendent enough to be mad at because he hasn’t stopped evil and suffering in the world, then you have (at the same moment) a God great and transcendent enough to have good reason for allowing it to continue that you can’t know. Indeed, you can’t have it both ways.”

Evil And Suffering Turned On Its Head

God’s plan is not one that just eventually makes up for suffering with eternal happiness and pleasure, but instead God uses evil and suffering to do the exact opposite of what Satan intended. Evil and suffering are intended to weaken the good things God created, but instead it will only serve to intensify the glorious future that God has in store. Just as nearly losing a loved one intensifies your love and devotion to them, the contrast caused by pain, suffering and sin only intensifies the goodness of God.

I’ll close with a final quote from Timothy Keller:

“This is the ultimate defeat of evil and suffering. It will not only be ended but so radically vanquished that what has happened will only serve to make our future life and joy infinitely greater.”

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About the author

Luke LeFevre

is a 22 year old speaker, writer, and revivalist from Nashville, TN where he helps lead a young adult movement called Revival Coalition, which focuses on inspiring and mobilizing young adults and college students to see this generation reached with the Gospel and to be set on fire for God—unto seeing revival and awakening in our cities and nation.


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  • Great explanation to such a tough topic. We have a broken world on our hands. Keep being bold with Gods word and with sharing it. Good job!

  • “Why then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is the only thing that makes possible any love, or goodness, or joy worth having.” C. S. Lewis.

  • Amen, brother!! This article was such a great reminder. Another great thing to remember is that by God’s restraining grace, men and the world are not nearly as bad as they could be. Pastor Paul Washer once said that all men, women and children have the compacity to be so bad that it makes Hitler look like nothing. That’s scary! But on the same end we should be thankful for God’s restraining grace towards all mankind and he’s redeeming grace towards his children. We live in a fallen world and it’s getting worse everyday, but thanks be to God for his love and great mercy! We can rejoice that one day this world and all its filth will be no more and all we will see is the glory of God.

  • Wow. I actually just listened to a speech on this at a camp. The Shorter Westminster Catechism question 1: What is the end purpose of man? A: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. So, what the speaker was saying was that when we respond in a godly way to the evil in the world, we are giving God glory through those actions, which is our end goal. So God allows this evil not because He doesn’t care, but because He is gracious enough to allow us to fulfill our purpose on earth. If He only let good things happen, how could we give Him glory through that? Anyone can give praise in the easy times. It’s like making a Siberian Husky get carted around instead of letting them run in the snow, or a horse only eats and sleeps with no riding. Thanks for more of the picture, Luke!!!

  • Luke,

    Excellent post! I find the question of why God allows evil is just man’s way of blaming God for what man is responsible. Is this not what Adam did blaming Him for giving him Eve? It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Our transgressions against a Holy God are our fault yet we fail to take responsibility for our lack of repentance and turning from our wicked ways.

    Here are a few scriptures that speaks to our inability to see and hear the truth. Notice at the end of Isaiah 59, God offers us a way out through our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, but unfortunately few recognize their depth of sinfulness and need of a Savior.

    Keep up the good work for His glory.

    What does God Require
    Deuteronomy 10:12-13 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?

    Romans 3:10-18 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    Isaiah 59:1-4, 6-20 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness. No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity. Their webs will not serve as clothing; men will not cover themselves with what they make. Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace. Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men. We all growl like bears; we moan and moan like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing, and denying the Lord, and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment. So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives. “And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord.

    Luke 17:26-30 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

    Sincerely in Him,
    Mrs. Jean

  • Great job Luke. It’s also helpful to keep in mind how often people take things for granted — if you ask someone a complex math problem, 99% chance they don’t know. Does that mean you reject math because they don’t know the answer? Surely not! It’s good for us as believers to use the logic and wisdom that God has granted us to engage in these topics thoughtfully (as you are).

  • Excellent article!! May I add something about natural disasters and why God allows them?

    Aren’t natural disasters present because of our fallen, imperfect, sin-stained world, and the curse invoked by the fall of man? If so, natural disasters are simply another consequence of our fleshly rebellion against God, as is suffering that is more directly tied to a human decision.

    So either way, it would seem that suffering, no matter what it’s form, is always directly/indirectly tied to the misuse of our free will.

  • I feel sorry for the author of this article. There is mounting evidence that evil is not something that you can use false wisdom to eradicate. Your logic in this ‘article’ is awful. And frankly proves that Christ has not really entered into the authors real life.

    There must be a more difficult set of situations that cause God to be unable to stop evil.

    One. It is very possible that once God made life on earth, that he was unable to simply stop from something from happening.

    When a pitcher throws a fast ball across the plate. Though the hitter wants to hit a home run, the pitcher could possible throw three strikes.

    That tells me that people whom are evil, have no intention of doing Gods’ work. And can easily take advantage different outcomes.

    There are people are evil enough that they become apapthetic.

    Apathy is sought out by evil.

    Once evil people see, contented people, and other apathy. Evil seems to thrive in those environments.

    I saw fight evil people with all of your might.

    Never be apathetic like priests, preachers, and ministers.

    They’re fools.

  • Well said! A quote I’ve heard many times, and have grown to appreciate more and more is “The darker the night, the brighter the light!” We keep being shocked when something terrible happens, instead of reading our Bible and saying, God said this was going to happen. He said it would get worse and worse before the end, but we must keep shining brighter and brighter. The point of being a light to the world, is not to make the world a brighter place (yes, game-changer), but rather, to show the world THE better place God has for them. Our goal is not this life or this world, but everlasting life with our Savior in Heaven. When eternity stops looking good to us, we get caught up in the drama down here in the dust. We chose sin, and sin broke the world. That’s life. Jesus could have taken us all out of this broken, sin-filled world, when He came here in person, but he didn’t. Instead, He lived and died for us, and opened the doorway to peace and hope through His precious blood shed at Calvary. We weren’t left here on earth to feel like sin’s victims; we were left here to be the warriors of truth and life. That’s why, instead of staring down at my feet, and asking doubt-filled questions, I strive to live by God’s Word, so I can look up each day with a heart that says, Heaven looks good from here!

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →