How can a good God allow so much evil and suffering?
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
How can a good God allow so much evil and suffering? I find this particular question very hard to answer because I feel things very deeply. If someone or a group of people are suffering, I find it hard to shut out or justify. Sometimes I wonder where God is at work through all of this.
On the Mount of Olives, Jesus might have felt the same way. He prayed that the cup of suffering and wrath that lay ahead of him might be averted. He didn’t want to go through that. But he knew that God had a bigger picture in mind. Jesus knew that he was God’s only way to ultimately defeat the suffering that comes with sin and death.
God isn’t disconnected with evil and suffering. Not only is he very aware of it, he also does something about it. He sent his son Jesus to defeat unjust, immoral, abusive suffering and evil. He took it all on the cross and then he rose from the dead. This shows that God is in control and he has his own purposes. Everyone who believes in Jesus will inherit eternal life and God’s kingdom.
Whilst there are times when God doesn’t meet our earthly needs, he will provide for us everything we need in heaven, a world where there will be no more pain, evil and suffering. This hope is the basis for our Christian faith. You can carry your own suffering all the way to your death. Or you can ask Jesus to take your suffering and death for you – he already has. If you want to be rid of your suffering forever, your only choice is to trust Jesus.
Head: Whilst we are concerned with our earthly sufferings, how do you think it compares with the sufferings that Jesus went through?
Heart: Jesus suffered for our spiritual needs. What should our response be to this?
Hands: What can we do to meet the earthly needs of our brothers and sisters? What can we do to help those who are suffering and how can we remind them of God’s actions against sin and death?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, this is a really tough question and one which we don’t have all the answers to. We don’t know why you allow this to happen. But what we do know is that you are not disconnected to it. You care about our suffering, so much that your son Jesus suffered immense physical, mental and spiritual pain for our salvation. By believing in him and having a relationship with you, we can join you in heaven, a world without pain, evil and suffering. Thank you for our salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
A song to listen to: Perfect but Painful
Mick Lather- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina