Q&A: Why does God let bad things happen?

It seems like this question comes up more frequently than “Are we there yet?” The assumption is that if God is loving, as scripture claims him to be, then he either would want to, or be capable of, protecting us from harm.

One way to look at answering this is by addressing each premise and then making a logical conclusion:

  1. “Does God love us?”
    1. We have ample reason from the scriptures to say “yes”
  2. “Are love and suffering contradictory concepts?”
    1. The assumption is that allowing someone to suffer is not loving, but suffering is not the logical opposite of love.
    2. When a parent takes their child to the doctor or the dentist, there can be some pain involved. Can someone conclude that the parent doesn’t love their child simply because they allow them to suffer in those situations?

God has never promised to protect us from pain and suffering. We have reassurances from scripture that we will not go through more than we can endure, but we are told that we will endure hardships. Jesus made the point several times that suffering and persecution would be characteristic of being his disciple.

We can also look at it from this perspective:
To be like Jesus we need virtues that he had such as patience, endurance, and compassion. These, as well as a number of other characteristics, that we value as human beings would not exist without the sufferings that cause them to develop. For a further treatise on this line of thinking, check out this post from author J. Warner Wallace.

From this, I don’t see how a truly loving God wouldn’t allow bad things, knowing the benefit that can be gained.

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