Why does God allow suffering and evil?

The existence of suffering and evil in the world has long been considered to be a big problem for Christianity.  It bothers anyone who believes that God is in control of everything.  As the old song says, "He's got the whole world in His hands."  After a tragic event, TV reporters typically ask survivors if their faith in God has been shaken.  Can they only reply sadly, "it doesn't make any sense now, but someday we will understand"?

The answer hinges on who rules the world.

The devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and he said to Him, "all these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me."  From Mathew 4:8-9

Jesus did not respond "they are not yours to give."  The kingdoms of the world must belong to Satan!  It is clearer in Luke:


And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours." Luke 4:5-7

Elsewhere Jesus said:

"I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me." John 14:30

"The ruler of this world has been judged." From John 16:11

The fall of Adam and Eve in Eden apparently gave Satan ownership of God's Creation.  So we have our answer: evil is in the world because the devil rules the world.  We are living in a place controlled by the enemy of God.  To illustrate with a historical example, Hitler's armies occupied many countries in Europe during World War II.  Most people there tried to avoid trouble by being docile, but the Nazis could do anything they wanted to the people any time without warning, and take anything they wanted.

Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. From 1 Peter 5:8

The Nazis controlled populations through intimidation.  Satan controls the world through lies and deception.

"There is no truth in him.  Whenever he speaks a lie he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies." From John 8:44

The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
From 2 Corinthians 4:4

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Ephesians 2:1-2

Within occupied Europe, opposition to the Nazis could not come in the form of large field armies.  Scattered secret groups organized to fight the occupiers.

We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 1 John 5:19

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

"The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil." Matthew 13:37-39

In these circumstances the need for Christ's mission on Earth becomes clear.

"No one can enter the strong man's house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house." Mark 3:27

"Now the ruler of this world will be cast out." John 12:31

 Jesus claimed to fulfil Isaiah's prophecy:

"The Spirit of the Lord" "has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives," "to set free those who are downtrodden". Luke 4:17-21

Some followers, like Judas, mistakenly thought Jesus was going to free oppressed people from Roman rule.  His real mission was against a far stronger power: Satan's.

Eventually a rescuing army will arrive to remove the occupying armies and take over.

"The harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are the angels.  Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.  The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:39-42

But until then, true Christians are fighting a guerrilla war.  Whenever the partisans of World War II had some success, they drew the full wrath of the Nazis, and the children of God can expect the same.

Where do you think you are?  The world is not an amusement park nor a place of peace and comfort; it is a war zone, an occupied country.

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16

Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. From 1 John 4:4

* * * * * * * * * *

"This I command you"

"This I command you, that you love one another." John 15:17

In modern America, many Christians think love means having warm, fuzzy feelings for people, expressed by hugs and big smiles.  Jesus has something else in mind.


As an example of loving others, He told the parable of the Good Samaritan.
A passerby comes to the aid of a badly injured man.
Luke 10:25-37

Everybody wants the best for themselves, and we work hard to meet our own needs.  In Luke 10:25-28 Jesus confirms that we are to love others as much as we love ourselves. Also,

"Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:44,45

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."
John 15:13

By God's design, living on Earth means having all sorts of needs that constantly have to be met.  There are endless opportunities to serve others.  How important is it?  Jesus said He will decide our fate according to whether or not we did these kinds of things:

"I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; naked and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me." Matthew 25:35,36

"To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." Matthew 25:40

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.  And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another." Matthew 25:31,32

Those who helped others will hear

"Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
Matthew 25:34

Those who did not help others will hear

"Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." Matthew 25:41

In the gospel of John Jesus says

"An hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds, to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." John 5:28,29

If you have been born again of the Spirit, and love God, you will love His Creation.  He does.

To make it clear for modern America, the wording should be:

This I command you, that you help each other.


* * * * * * * * * *

Citations are from the New American Standard Bible, Reference Edition, 1973.

John Michael Fischer, 2007