We believe in God. But in many of our solemn moments, we ponder why pain, tragedies, inhumanities, war, and deadly diseases occur and inundate humanity.
Why does God allow mass shootings that result in the deaths of innocent schoolchildren and mall shoppers? What about the deadly war casualties in Ukraine who are sleeping in their apartments? Why does God allow the deaths of around 9 million people worldwide each year because of hunger? Why so much pain and tragedy?
These disturbing inquiries besiege us and challenge our faith. We believe that God created us in his image and made all things out of nothing because of his supreme love for us. But why does God let bad things happen?
- 1 Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?
- 2 Benefits Of Suffering
- 3 Where Is God When We Suffer?
- 4 5 Hopeful Verses About Suffering
- 5 Conclusion
Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?
Judgment Of God
In the Garden of Eden, everything was perfect. God created a suitable and complete dwelling place with all the things and components needed for our survival and sustenance in the very beginning. Made in his likeness, God created us perfect, blameless, and immortal.
God only requires our complete obedience to him and fellowship with him. Everything was fine until the devil arrived. Adam and Eve broke their holy relationship with God, disobeyed his command, and ate the forbidden fruit from the tree “in the middle of the garden.”
As a result, they were driven out of the garden and punished for their transgressions. God also denounced them for suffering death, pain, disease, tough work, and labor pains during childbirth.
The Fall of Mankind brought about the sins of our first parents and humanity. As a continuing consequence, we all bear God’s judgment as long as we live in our earthly tents.
The Element Of Free Will
Bad things happen to us as a result or consequence of our God-given free will. In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve that they could eat anything from any tree except the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” But the crafty serpent influenced Adam and Eve to disobey God.
The wrong choice of our first parents started sin on earth. God allowed bad things to happen because of our own choices—because of free will. Despite their disobedience, which led to our fall, God did not remove our freedom to choose. Today, God seeks our worship, but he never forces faith or obedience, as he gave us free will.
Sin And Disobedience
Since the Fall of Mankind, we have all suffered pain and many afflictions in our daily, mundane lives. The stubbornness of the Israelites brought the anger of God. They revered golden calves, disobeyed God, and often complained about many things. Because of their transgressions, God brought down from the heavens plagues, death, sickness, and other catastrophes.
Sin separates us from the love and protection of God. We suffer the consequences of our sins and disobedience in our lives. If we let sin reign in our mortal bodies, the wrath of God is not removed. As a result, we continue to put up with the pain, bad things, and afflictions of our earthly existence.
Romans 5:12 reads, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and in this way, death came to all people because all sinned, the Word of God reveals that all sickness, disease, pain, tragedy, and death are the result of the presence of sin in the world.”
To Test Our Faith
Job was a righteous and faithful man. Yet God knew Job and allowed Satan to take away his children, great wealth, and a slew of other calamities. Despite the tragedies, he fell to the ground and worshiped God.
Job 1:21–22 reads: “‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
Jesus Christ was tested in the wilderness when he first encountered the devil. The Israelites were also tested in the desert. Likewise, we also face tests and trials in our everyday lives to prove our faith in and love for our holy God. The tests and bad things we encounter reveal the inner state of our hearts.
The Role Of Natural Disasters
In addition to human actions and choices, natural disasters play a significant role in the occurrence of bad things in our world. Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other natural calamities bring about destruction, loss of life, and immense suffering. Many wonder why God allows such devastating events to happen.
It’s important to recognize that calamities are a result of the brokenness and imperfections of our natural world. The Earth, as a dynamic and ever-changing planet, is subject to geological processes and weather patterns that can lead to catastrophic events. These events result from living in a sin-affected world.
The fallen state of creation affects the natural world, just as it subjects human beings to the consequences of sin. Romans 8:22 in the Bible states that sin’s brokenness causes all creation to groan and suffer. Natural disasters, therefore, can be understood as a manifestation of this brokenness, reminding us of the need for restoration and redemption.
While it may be difficult to comprehend why God allows natural disasters to occur, it’s essential to remember that God’s ways are beyond our complete understanding. We may not have all the answers, but we can find solace in knowing that God is present with us in these trials and tragedies. He walks alongside us, providing comfort, strength, and the hope of ultimate restoration.
It’s worth noting that even in the face of calamities, stories of resilience, compassion, and unity emerge. Communities come together to support and rebuild, demonstrating the indomitable human spirit. These acts of love and kindness are a testament to our capacity for empathy and the image of God within us.
In seeking to understand the role of natural disasters, we are reminded of our responsibility as stewards of the Earth. As custodians of this planet, we must prioritize environmental care, sustainable practices, and disaster preparedness. By taking proactive steps to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and responding compassionately to those affected, we can embody the love and care that Jesus tells us to show to one another.
While these events bring immense suffering, they also provide opportunities for growth, compassion, and solidarity. They remind us of our shared vulnerability and the importance of supporting one another in times of need. Ultimately, it is through our response, with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, to these challenges that we can demonstrate our faith, love, and resilience in the face of adversity.
Benefits Of Suffering
To Discipline And Teach Us A Lesson
After 430 years of slavery in Egypt, God liberated about three million Israelites and promised them a “land flowing with milk and honey” in Canaan. However, they had to cross the desert, where there was no water, food, or shelter. Moses led them by faith that our Heavenly Father would provide for all of their needs.
However, the Israelites soon got disgruntled and complained about the food, water, and lack of spices. Consumed with doubt and bitterness, they didn’t revere and trust God and made a golden calf to worship.
God had to teach them a lesson about faith and obedience. What was supposed to be a trek of only eleven days to traverse the desert took them forty long years (Deuteronomy 1:1–2). They faced war and terrible things of many kinds.
God is perfect. This means that he cannot let sin go unpunished. God, like our parents, punishes or disciplines us when we continue to sin or disobey him.
Hebrews 12:5–6 says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Like our earthly father, God chastises us to prepare and make us better for a future life in heaven.
To Increase Our Faith And Love Of God And Others
Bad things happen to us because we lack faith in Jesus Christ and love for other people. God commands us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39).
The great commandment is the epitome of all the commands of God and the source of faith. Our holy God wants us to love him and bless others. When we trust God and embrace suffering as a path to spiritual maturity, we prevent evil. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we recognize the benefits that can come from our suffering.
Where Is God When We Suffer?
We know those terrible things weren’t God’s original intent for humanity. But our good God did not create or ordain evil on Earth. He made man and gave us free will—the power of choice to decide between good and evil. We can see in the trials and sufferings of Job that God did not leave him. God is just around, watching Job to see if he can hold on to his faith.
The wonderful thing about God is that he is not untouched when we suffer. Jesus is with us even in the midst of our trials and sufferings. Without our knowing it, God also sends his angels as ministering spirits in times of great pain and distress. God waits patiently as our Father, hoping we will turn to him for repentance, encouragement, and strength.
The Bible tells us that God has a redeeming plan behind all our suffering. Romans 8:28 reads, “All things work together for good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. You become a righteous man, avoid evil things, and serve as a good example to those who lose hope.”
As Christians, we must call on God when tragedy strikes. And we are to rest confident that God will not allow anything to happen to us without his permission. Jesus is with us when we face temptation and evil. Because of God’s love, he will not allow bad things to happen that will bring us more harm than good.
5 Hopeful Verses About Suffering
I have told you these things so that, in me, you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.— John 16:33
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character; and character produces hope.— Romans 5:3–4
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.— Romans 8:18–19
Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.— Psalm 119:70–71
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you. But rejoice since you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.— 1 Peter 4:12–13
Sickness, disease, and death entered the whole world with the human race’s fall. In our fallen world, the Scriptures reveal that life is a struggle and suffering is inevitable. We suffer now because all creation was subjected to God’s wrath because of sin and disobedience.
But we can all rejoice in our present sufferings and gather joy amid the tragedies and hurts in our lives. We recognize the paradox that true happiness comes with suffering. We know, despite our suffering, that our lives are only temporary as we await our place in perfect eternity.