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Why does God allow pain and suffering?


Evil, pain and suffering caused by hateful people are never far from us. Why does God allow it? Can a loving God allow suffering? Why does God allow such suffering? How do we reconcile a caring god, a god of power, with a god who allows evil actions to happen?  In this brief article, part 1 on pain and suffering,  I look specifically at pain and suffering caused by people.  In part 2 I will look specifically at natural tragedies including pandemics.  

Let's set the scene:

* Tragedies and suffering due to war and violence flood the news. Why?

* Evil and pain afflict loved ones, friends and communities. Why does God allow this?

* Suffering seems to leave no one untouched.

People ask why God allows pain in their lives: emotional pain, physical suffering, sadness and loss.  They say God must not care, or perhaps he is not powerful.

God allows us to be human, to make choices. He cannot allow human freedom without allowing suffering or humans would be puppets. Much of the evil and pain in the world is human evil, humanly-caused pain, the result of human sin.

God allowed Adam and Eve to make choices. Their choice to sin brought suffering and chaos into the whole world. But it is not over! God's Word promises that he will create a new heaven and a new earth and there will be no more mourning or death or pain because humanity's sin will be gone and God will dwell with mankind.

God does not want suffering. God allows mankind to make choices - but sinful choices come under his judgment. He allows evil but judges it, too.

* Free will to love others and God himself is not free if it disallows other options.

* Sinful desires bring natural consequences including pain.

* Sinful choices carry spiritual consequences - including God's judgment.

Pain and suffering result from sin in the world and people's own sin. Even though God allows suffering and pain caused by sin, he alone can judge sin justly. 

"I will punish this evil world and its people because of their sins. I will crush the horrible pride of those who are cruel." (Isaiah 13:11, The Bible, Contemporary English Version) 

Though God allows suffering, he overcomes it.

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