If God is all-powerful, then why does he allow suffering?


Tough Questions with RC Sproul

If God is all-powerful, then why does he allow suffering?
=========================================================
A
controversial book on this matter was titled When Bad Things Happen to
Good
People. A common objection to religion is, How can anybody believe in
God in
light of all of the suffering that we see and experience in this
world?

John Stuart Mill raised this classic objection against the
Christian faith: If
God is omnipotent and allows all this suffering, then he
is not benevolent, he
is not a kindhearted God, he is not loving. And if he’s
loving to the whole
world and allows all this suffering, then he’s certainly
not omnipotent. And
given the fact of evil, or the fact of suffering, we can
never conclude that
God is both omnipotent and benevolent. As brilliant as
John Stuart Mill is, I
have to demur at that point and look at what the
Scriptures say about these
things.

Keep in mind that from a biblical
perspective, suffering is intrinsically
related to the fallenness of this
world. There was no suffering prior to sin.
I interpret Scripture to say that
suffering in this world is part of the
complex of God’s judgment on the
world. You are asking, How can a righteous
judge allow a criminal to suffer?
How can a just judge allow a violent
offender to be punished? The question we
should ask is, How can a just judge
not allow punishment for those who have
committed acts of violence or crimes
of any sort? Behind that question always
stands the holiness of God and his
perfect righteousness. Our understanding
of God is rooted and grounded in the
teaching of Scripture that he is the
just Judge. The Judge of all of the earth
always does right.

In the
ninth chapter of John, the Pharisees say to Jesus, “Why was this man
born blind? Was it because of his sin or the sins of his parents?” Jesus said,
“Neither one.” We can’t come to the conclusion that an individual’s
suffering
in this world is in direct proportion to that individual’s sin.
That was what
Job’s friends did when they came to him and tormented him by
saying, “Boy,
Job, you’re really suffering a lot. This must be an indication
that you’re the
most miserable sinner of all.” But the Bible says that we
can’t use such a
formula. The fact is, if there were no sin in the world,
there would be no
suffering. God allows suffering as part of his judgment,
but he also uses it
for our redemption—to shape our character and build up
our faith.

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