The problem of evil, also called the problem of pain and suffering, is probably the most well attested argument against the existence of God. Two attributes of God are taken as contradictory to a world with evil and suffering. 1st, God is all powerful (omnipotent). 2nd, God is all-loving (omni-benevolent). If he was all-loving, he would want to do away with all the evil that harm to his valued creatures. If he is all powerful, he would have the capability to get rid of the evil that harms his value creatures. But evil obviously exists. Therefore, as the argument concludes, such a God does not exist.
I’ve addressed the reasons that this is not a logically airtight argument and then presented reasons for suffering to have at least a temporary place in our world. Now my goal is to demonstrate what I consider to be God’s ultimate sovereign purpose for creating such a world that would contain difficulties, suffering, and evil.
Foundationally, I believe God wanted an earth filled with free creatures who have endured various experiences in order to color his kingdom (adding depth and character to it). Each experience has the potential to teach us something about God. Everything that we suffer represents an opportunity for God to prove his loving kindness to us in ultimate fashion. People may not always see God’s purposes throughout their life… but often people do. And even if we don’t know why He allows particular circumstances, those circumstances still represent an opportunity. They represent the chance for us to experience the difference between the fallen temporary world and the eternal home. Sometimes we need strong reminders of why we long for a home different from this one.
We learn what it means to be godly toward other people through this type of fallen world. We understand what it means to make sacrifices. We understand the depths of the human heart, and our ability to commune with others on such a profound level. We have better friends in this world because of the vulnerability of life.
This fallen world, with all its evil and suffering, has given us the best possible opportunity to see God’s heart toward us. We appreciate God more by being able to see the consequences of the things that oppose Him. God is able to truly be our sense of satisfaction because we are in a life that starves desperately for satisfaction. We are able to understand God’s comfort, because the world provides so many opportunities for hurt.
It is into this type of world that God’s Son made himself a part. In Christ, God has shown to us that He is present in the pains of this world. And maybe, just maybe, He allowed so much evil and unjust suffering to take place so that he himself could experience it to its greatest extent. Maybe there was no other way for God to make His love so known then to enter into a world full of unjust suffering and evil.
God knew that this world would be infused with human suffering and the prevalence of evil. Yet He saw this world as the ideal way for His eternal will to come about. Maybe, in the end, we will celebrate God all the more because of what we know about life in this world. This period of evil and unjust suffering is relatively short. And someday we trust that all will be made sense of.
Until then, we can endure evil faithfully, allowing it to highlight our need for God, our desperation for satisfaction in Him. We can let it color our lives into an experience unique to us that will tell the story of God’s goodness toward us- a powerful and meaningful testimony to those around us. We can thank Him for the meaningful friendships and meaningful experiences that have overcome the sense of evil and suffering. Above all, we can thank Him for entering into our sense of evil and suffering–proving His faithful friendship toward us. Through Him, we can be confident that all dignity that was stolen will ultimately be returned.