A mass shooting in New Zealand. Devastating flooding in Nebraska. Cancer. Miscarriage. Adultery. Abuse. Evil and suffering always bring with them many questions. Where was God? Why does it seem like evil is stronger than He is? Is He good? Why should we trust Him? What can we even trust Him to do? The church in the prosperous West has not done a good job preparing Christians to face these inevitable questions, and that means there are a lot of vulnerable Christians out there who are one crisis away from having their trust in God shattered.
As I’ve struggled through making sense of these questions over the last decade, I’ve written well over 100 posts about what I’ve discovered. Below are links (and brief excerpts) to posts covering some of the key ideas Christians need to know about evil and suffering.
My prayer for you is that your suffering will bring you closer to God, not drive you away from Him.
- Christians, You Will Suffer – “If suffering disproves your Christianity, you’ve missed Christianity. The Bible is filled with the suffering of those whom God loves. The central event of the Bible is one of suffering. Love involves suffering. “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” That means suffering. But Christianity also promises justice for evil. And grace. And life from death. Resurrection. New bodies. Hope. Jesus is the only hope for true pain. Without Him, there’s nothing left to do but rail against God with the most perverse insults imaginable.”
- The Gospel’s Answer to the Problem of Evil – “In ‘A (Very) Brief, Gospel-Centered Defense against the Problem of Evil,’ Derek Rishmawy explains how we can know, through the Gospel, that God is indeed all-powerful, all-good, and all-knowing, despite the existence of evil.”
- Why It Isn’t Naïve to Trust God in Your Suffering – “My trust isn’t just wishful thinking. It results from my confidence in God’s sovereignty and love, both of which He demonstrated definitively, objectively, and historically at the cross. It also results from my own past experience. When I look back at what God has done in me through suffering, and how much better I know and trust Him because of it, I can see His faithfulness to me. My highest goal has always been to know God better—intellectually and experientially—and I can see from my own life how suffering has led to a richer knowledge and experience of His grace, His strength and support, and His love.”
- Don’t Trust God to Protect You from Pain – “An experience of suffering can be very disorienting to Christians who are trusting God to protect them from pain. This is not the kind of trust God has called us to have, and though most of us know this intellectually, I think this is something that has to be learned through experience. What will you cling to when your hopes for God’s provision seem to fail? What does it really mean to trust in God’s provision? You will struggle with these questions.”
- What Easter Says to Those Who Are Suffering – “With the cross and resurrection at its core, Christianity need never deny the reality of evil and suffering because Jesus has proven Himself to be greater than all of it. He didn’t just overcome it, He overcame through it. The cross was the very means by which He secured joy.... Sometimes we’re tempted to think evil is stronger than God, but when we understand that every attempt evil makes to harm us is working for our good, we’ll see that all of evil’s weapons have been removed from it; there is nothing left it can use against us.”
- How Can We Condemn Evil if God Is Sovereign? – “There, we see that the most grievous sin ever committed—the killing of Jesus—was something God predestined to occur. But this doesn’t mean the people didn’t sin in killing Him! No one would say that killing Jesus wasn’t a sin just because it was God’s plan from before the foundation of the world for Jesus to die on the cross. In fact, it was said of Judas that ‘it would have been better for that man if he had not been born’ (Matt. 26:24). The people sinned and God meant it as part of His plan for His glory and the good of His people.”
- It’s Not Wrong to Long for Justice – “Our love of justice is a reflection of our love for the perfections of God’s character. He is righteous. He is loving. He is good. In the deepest part of us, we know that everyone who rips away at God’s reflection on earth rightfully deserves condemnation, and we desire the fulfillment of that condemnation. It’s when we recognize that this applies even to our own sins that we become desperate for grace.”
- Evil and the Cross – “Why did God allow evil to come into this world? Why not create everything in the state of perfection we will be in after this world comes to an end? I think the answer is that God had a goal in mind that is greater than the suffering, and that goal is the revealing of Himself to His people so that we will be able to fully express our pleasure in Him through worship, enjoying Him for an eternity.”