Many wonder why God allows suffering and catastrophes.
To answer this we would say, first, that the trouble in this world is man’s fault, not God’s. When God made man in the beginning, there was no suffering. God made a perfect world for man to live in and provided for man’s every need. God placed the first man and woman in a paradise called the Garden of Eden and gave them only one commandment. But they were not satisfied with God’s provision and they disobeyed God’s commandment and fell into sin. As a result, the world became a place of evil and suffering. This is man’s fault. It is men that lie and cheat and steal and rape and kidnap and bully and kill.
Second, God is holy and judges sin. He is not only a Saviour, He is also a Judge. God warned the first man and woman, that if they disobeyed His law they would be punished, and that is what happened. Because of sin, the world came under God’s curse. This is described in Genesis chapter 3. It is God’s curse that is the cause of sickness and death and many other troubles that men suffer. Men are not innocent before God. All men have sinned and broken His laws; and all men, therefore, deserve to be punished.
Third, God has given light to men and they have rejected it. John 1:9 says that God gives light to every man. There is the light of creation (Romans 1:19-20). Men can know that there is a God from the things that He has made. There is also the light of conscience (Romans 2:14-16). God has put a conscience inside of man that tells us there is a God and that convicts us when we do wrong. There is also the light of the Bible (Romans 3:1-2). This is the greatest light that God has given to men.
From the very beginning, when men first sinned, God began to show them the way of salvation. But for the most part, God’s Word has been rejected and men have lived according to their own thinking and have traded the true and living God for false gods. Adam and Eve knew God and knew about His salvation (Genesis 3:15, 21). Adam lived 930 years (Genesis 5:5), so for the first millennium of man’s history the first man was still alive and still talking about the true God who had created him. Adam’s second son, Abel, was a prophet and knew about salvation through the coming Saviour (Luke 11:50-51; Hebrews 11:4). Before the worldwide Flood, there were prophets. Enoch was a prophet who preached about the second coming of Christ (Jude 14-15), and Noah also preached for 120 years before the Flood (2 Peter 2:5). Job lived after the Flood and knew many things about God, including salvation through the coming Saviour and the bodily resurrection (Job 19:25-27). Solomon proclaimed the true God to many nations in his day (1 Kings 4:34). This was 1,000 years before Christ. King Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonian empire preached to the nations of his day (Daniel 4:1-3, 37). This was about 550 years before Christ. Darius of the Medo-Persian empire also preached to the nations (Daniel 6:25-28). The apostles preached the gospel in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe (Romans 1:8). From then until now Christian missionaries have been preaching to the ends of the earth. Men have no excuse for sitting in darkness and not knowing the true and living God.
Men are responsible to seek God (Acts 17:27). In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus taught that men are responsible to respond to God’s Word (Matthew 13:18-19, 23). Those who respond to the light are given more light. Cornelius is an example of this (Acts 10). He was seeking God and trying to follow the Old Testament, and God sent a Christian to him to explain the gospel of Jesus Christ. The same thing happened to the eunuch from Ethiopia. We read about this in Acts 8:26-40. He had visited Israel and obtained one of the books of the Old Testament and was trying to understand it. God sent Philip to him to explain the gospel.
God has been trying to speak to men and to call them for 6,000 years, but for the most part He has been ignored. God cannot be blamed for man’s spiritual ignorance.
Fourth, God has provided salvation and offers it to all men. God’s great love and goodness are evident by the fact that He came into this world and suffered many things at the hands of His own creatures and allowed Himself to be crucified on a cross in order to save men from their sins. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God wants to save men. That is His desire. If men are not saved, it is not God’s fault. The fact that God has gone to such great trouble and expense to provide salvation for those who believe is evidence that He can be trusted to do that which is right.
Fifth, we cannot expect to understand everything about God. To understand every mystery about God, you would have to be God! Though God has revealed many things to us in the Scriptures, He has not revealed everything and He has not answered every question we can ask. Deuteronomy 29:29 is a very important verse. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
Sixth, God does not have to answer to man. “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20). As God’s creature, man is required to trust and obey him regardless of whether he can understand him. God must be God.
March 31, 2010 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org)