How Can a Loving God Allow Such Human Suffering and Evil?


There’s one challenging question asked by nonbelievers and believers alike: How can a loving God allow humans to suffer as they do and allow all the evil in the world? The answer lies in the importance God puts on human free will.

The importance of human free will

One of the most important things that God gave mankind was the ability to have free will. It was not God’s desire to create robots under His control. Instead, God gave mankind complete free will in order that they would love Him out of their choosing not because they were programmed to be that way.

Because humans would have the ability to make their own free choices, it meant they would have the ability to sin. The all-powerful and all-knowing God knew this from the beginning.

God knew free will could lead to evil

So important was free will, that God gave mankind this ability in spite of the fact that sin and evil would be a possibility.

Some people take this to believe that God created evil. But that is not the case. Evil on Earth did not exist until mankind willfully chose to sin.

God and evil cannot occupy the same space.

When Satan and a third of the angels rebelled against God, they created evil in heaven and were cast out. These holy angels became fallen angels, now called demons. Lucifer, an angel of light, became Satan, the Prince of darkness.

God had given mankind a place of absolute perfection in the Garden of Eden. But when Adam and Eve sinned, they created evil in the world, and lost their relationship with God, their creator.

The late Reverend Billy Graham, in his writings said:

“The Bible makes it plain that there is suffering in the world because there’s sin in the world. The heart of the problem lies in man’s alienation from God which began with Adam and Eve. If the separation which sin creates had not entered into the life of mankind, human suffering would not exist in the world.”

Moral evil

Pastor John MacArthur says there are three kinds of evil: Natural evil, moral evil and supernatural evil.

Speaking on moral evil, Pastor MacArthur says: “Moral evil is personal, internal, spiritual, wickedness, sin, transgression. This dominates the human race.”

MacArthur specifies that “this kind of moral evil is so pervasive. It’s in every single human heart and is a dominating and controlling force.”

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

–Romans 3:23

Why God allows sin and evil to occur

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”

– Romans 1:28

The reason sin and evil occur in the world is because mankind has freely chosen to turn away from God. The bad actions of human beings are choices that such individuals choose to make on their own, clearly without a godly mind.

Why do bad things happen to good people? There are no good people

This may be hard for some people to hear. But if we define “good people” as those who never sin – then there are no good people. The Bible tells us this.

MacArthur adds that: “The Bible says, ‘There’s not one who’s good, no not one.'”

“Surely there is no righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.”

–Ecclesiastes 7:20

As long as mankind continues to separate itself from God, there will be evil in the world. The Bible tells us that this will continue until the end of days because mankind will not turn away from sin.

Even amid evil God has a plan

By allowing sin and evil to exist in the world, God demonstrates his righteousness, goodness and holiness. We have evil as a measuring stick to compare to what is truly good. As humans, we aren’t capable of God’s goodness.

Jesus said:

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

– Matthew 6:14-15

We have trouble forgiving people who do bad things to us. But God, in his holy grace, is willing and able to forgive all who truly repent of their sin. God still intends to save those who will come to Him.

Repentance of your sins

God wants to forgive sins. He wants mankind to truly seek forgiveness and fellowship from God.

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.”

–Micah 7:18

Jesus said God will forgive and remove sins of those who ask.

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

–Matthew 7:11