Why does God allow suffering?

  • 4 votes

i'm a Christian and loads of people in my school have been asking me "If your God is so great then why does He allow suffering?"

This has really been puzzling me so i'm wondering if anyone can help

Posted Wed 5th September, 2012 @ 18:33 by becky

18 Answers

  • 6 votes

There is no exact answer to this question. It is highly debatable. I believe that so long as mankind has the free will to disobey God, they will be subject to pain and suffering.

Some Christians believe the 'bad' of the world is outweighed by the 'good' and that God has created our minds to think to a certain extent and, for that reason, we should not question Him. They believe there is no such thing as 'innocent suffering' for we are all sinners (due to original sin) so there is no wrong to the existence of suffering.

Personally, I do not like this way of thinking. Several children are born without any way of knowing what 'good' or 'bad' there is in the world but they are forced to suffer due to poverty, famine and war. The idea of all mankind suffering for one wrong doing by Adam and Eve is rather ridiculous, to be honest, but I will agree that God (if such and entity exists) is in the right to 'allow suffering' for mankind.

You can ask people to take a look at all of mankind- all of the lying politicians, war criminals, bribers etc. - and think why, when such people exist, does a thing like suffering exist. Those 'innocent' people will be rewarded after their suffering either with Heaven (if it exists) or eternal rest. In believing in God, you will understand that the punishment for the sinners of this world will face a punishment much more severe in the hereafter than any innocent person who suffered in their lifetime here on Earth.

To make things simple, God allows suffering so we can all learn the consequences of our actions. Those of us who intently cause suffering for other people will be punished in the afterlife whereas those who are good will be rewarded, making up for all the suffering they would have undergone during their lives. The scales of justice are balanced in this way which makes it perfectly reasonable for God to allow suffering in this world.


In argument with Theophilus, there are many people who strongly believe in God yet they undergo extreme amounts of suffering; some of them due to their beliefs. If God's will was to tell people that they can't live without Him by allowing suffering, those several people who strongly believe in Him would not be suffering. However, they are.

God doesn't need to 'see' IF there are any 'bad' people in the world because ,if He is truly all powerful, He would already know of what 'bad' people there are in the world.

Answered Wed 5th September, 2012 @ 19:09 by Shan
Edited by Shan on Wed 5th September, 2012 @ 19:15
  • 2 votes

Suffering in the world can cause great doubt for many religious believers in their faiths, as it evokes question over the omnipotentence and the omnibenevolence of God. If all this suffering ocurs, is it because God does not have the power to stop it? Or, if he does have the power to stop it, why does he refrain from preveting the lack of justice if he is all good? Different people have stepped forward to try and answer these particular questions. Augustine pushes the aspect of free will and describes how its value overcomes the issue of natural (nature) and moral (human) evil. Although free will allows people to make bad choices and allows moral evil to exist in the world, it also allows people to make good choices that will bring them and others much happiness which would not exist without us having the attribute of free will. Some philosophers agree that the contrast between what is good and what is bad highlights the beauty of goodness and this is known as the Aesthetic Principle. Augustine explains the natural evil in the world with the disharmony brought in to creation by fallen angels and views moral evil not as a thing its self, but as a lack of something. For example, a lack of good which would make the person evil. Iranaeus views evil and hardship in the world as essential and educative. He sees us comparatively to chilren, and God creating boundaries so we come to have a sense of morality and lead us to God. A more modern approach by John Hick sees virtuous qualities such as charity and compassion only occuring in a world where there is suffering as it pushes people to act this way. The qualities we develop through this life and through the suffering and evil we ecounter, are greater than any qualities we may just have been given and are born with, so evil and suffering are vital. Natural evil such as natural disasters, again push us to act in a charitable way and have intellectual and imaginative development. Overall, many believe that the benefits of free will, outweigh the problem of evil in the world. If there were to be no free will, we would all exist like robots and slaves to God's deeds so free will is important in the way it allows us to grasp individuality and it seems that sufferring is undeniably connected with free will. Although many will not see the worth of free will because of the pain they encounter, that is simply the way the world works, and I hope that it will not push people to lose belief in God, as that faith can be greatly beneficial and comforting, and something that I do not see anyone as ever fully understanding.

Answered Sun 30th December, 2012 @ 13:25 by Charlotte
Edited by Charlotte on Sun 30th December, 2012 @ 15:22
  • 2 votes

Let me tell you this to make it easier for you too see why God allows suffering;

If I threw my coat on the floor, would you care? No

If I spat on my coat, would you care? No

If I cut my coat into pieces, would you care? No

If I set my coat on fire, would you care? No

You don't care, why? Because my coat belongs to me right!

Therefore, the entire creation belong to God therefore, God should be able to do whatever God wishes to his creation without people questionning. 

Also, God is the greatest planner and knows what lies ahead. Whatever happens is trurly for the best.

Hope it helps! :)

Answered Fri 11th January, 2013 @ 18:08 by Ameenah:)
Edited by Ameenah:) on Fri 11th January, 2013 @ 18:10
  • 1 vote

God allows suffering so that the people who don't believe in him understand that they cannot live without him.

He also allows suffering because he might be punishing those specific kind of people.

Also God cannot interfere with our free will, so he uses suffering to see how we react to each other.

In this way God is able to see if there are any Bad minded, evil and corrupted people in our world,

He is also able to understand that in contrast there are also good minded, loving and kind people in this world.

Answered Wed 5th September, 2012 @ 18:55 by Theophilus Taiwo
Edited by Theophilus Taiwo on Wed 5th September, 2012 @ 19:11
  • 1 vote

Im christian to.

God would allow suffering, because if he didn't then free will wopuld be impossible. If people didn't suffer then they wouldn't enjoy what they have the opurtunity to enjoy. So you wouldn't respect how lucky you are, or you would never see the bright side, because something isn't God if there is nothing bad to compare it to. Don't let other people pressure you into losing your belief!

Answered Wed 19th September, 2012 @ 12:40 by Lydia
  • 1 vote

Some people believe that God allows suffering to help people develop and grow as they overcome it whilst others believe it as a result of the origional sin.

Answered Sun 18th November, 2012 @ 17:49 by Hannah
  • 0 votes

First of all um....... are you cussing and dissing our god.

Second of all in relation to the story of Adam and Eve  there is suffering in pour world because Adam an Eve ate the forbidding fruit which enables them to understand the meaning of good and evil.

Because of this everyone in the world then gains the power to manipulate this understanding against each other.

so in God seeing this he strikes:

poverty, pain in giving birth, weed to grow unexpectedly in soils and earthquakes and other "Natural hazards to fall upon the Earth.

Answered Wed 5th September, 2012 @ 19:19 by Theophilus Taiwo
  • 0 votes

have you looked into Augustines Theodicy, in my opinion it gives a really good insight as to why there is evil and suffering in the world, there are also other things i.e. the inconsistan triad. I would definetly read about augustines theodicy though :)

Answered Wed 31st October, 2012 @ 20:14 by .....
  • 0 votes

one answer could be that he allows suffering because something good will come out of it. Maybe he wants to see how people react to this

Answered Tue 6th November, 2012 @ 02:37 by GotToRevise
  • 0 votes

God gave us free will. Our suffering is only a result of other people abusing their free will (by commiting evil).If God wanted to stop suffering he would have to as a result take away our free will so we wouldn't commit evil unto others.

Answered Mon 12th November, 2012 @ 19:33 by Wingading
  • 0 votes


i think this is an issue which many people interpret in different ways...

having studied rs at gcse, i think that its important that as humans we are aware of why things like this happen...

having throughly researched this topic, i found that :

It is a Muslim’s belief that suffering of pain, hunger, tragic accidents etc, are due to one’s sins, for God wants this suffering to erase these sins which were made by this Muslim.

god says in the quran:

 “Whatever misfortune happens to you, is because of the things your hands have wrought, and for many (of them) He grants forgiveness”. 

surah 42 verse 30

as muslims we are taught that this life is a test and we are tested through these trials.

and even if ur a christian... its similar...

i hope this helps

Answered Sat 12th January, 2013 @ 18:29 by Maryam
  • 0 votes

I did this topic a few weeks ago and one of the reasons that everyone agreed with was so that he could test peoples faith because life is a test. It is a test to see if you keep believing or if you just 'give up'.

Answered Sun 13th January, 2013 @ 14:28 by amreena
  • 0 votes

Eh, I'm a pretty strident atheist but to see some of the 'anti-christian-theist' statements from Theophilus Taiwo (a muslim) - I find the entire 'My God is better than your god' akin to playground 'my dad will beat your dad up'.

I am not convinced with the idea of free will as an explanation.

1) It is well known by neuroscientists (for some time) that our traditional concept of free will (the ability to choose) is empirically false. I would suggest the book 'Free Will' by Sam Harris - it's a small, succint essay. I encourage anyone here to google it.

2) Free will (which doesn't exist) would not account the natural evil. The theodicies and apologetics which attempt to explain this are baseless. They are based on faith and do not form any kind of argument. By invoking metaphysics and faith the argument loses all respect.

Sam Harris came up with another version, you can find that here.

I haven't yet come across and philosopher who can defend against the problem of evil without invoking faulty logic or faith.

I also wonder, take the Sandy Hook shooting, where Adam Lanza gunned down 27(?) children... assuming he 'choose' to do that via free will - why didn't God make his gun vanish from his hands? Why did he not stop the bullets, or make Adam trip and break his ankle on his way? Think about how the families prayed that their child wasn't dead, how the children and people inside the school as Adam blew them away prayed that they would be okay. Imagine their suffering, their fear, their death. God is, without a doubt, a sadistic being if he exists in anyway Christianity, Islam or any other theistic religious claim.

You cannot claim a theistic god exists in the light of such evil, at least while using logic and rationality. You can argue for a deistic god, but even so, the agnostic (in its espistomological sematics) and impersonal nature of such a being doesn't answer the problem of evil.

I personally enjoy the logical fallacies, the circular logic and various over pitfalls committed by the religious as their brains struggle to maintain faith.

Answered Wed 30th January, 2013 @ 18:43 by Sam Keene
Edited by Sam Keene on Wed 30th January, 2013 @ 18:47
  • 0 votes

i think suffering exists to help people feel empathy towards each other. god tests the patience of every human being to see how they reply. in this way God tests the faith and the willpower of human beings (and the patience...of course!!!!!)

Answered Fri 1st February, 2013 @ 11:34 by Former Member
Edited by Former Member on Fri 1st February, 2013 @ 11:36
  • 0 votes

A couple of explanations:

1) We were created imperfect and need to grow to be more my like God. Suffering brings out the best in people and helps us to become better.

2) Natural evil comes about because of people mis using their free will. In order to let us exercise the freedom he has given us, God allows suffering to continue in the world.

Answered Sun 3rd March, 2013 @ 17:42 by anna
  • -1 votes

As stated in the Irenaean theodicy, God keeps an epistemic distance in order for us to develop morality before joining him in heaven. God blesses humanity with freewill and through free will we abuse this power, resulting in evil and suffering. There are two types of evil, natural and moral, natural stems from fallen angels resulting in earthquakes and hurricanes where as moral evil is formed by humans. John Hick described evil as "physical pain, mental suffering and moral wickidness". 

Answered Tue 9th April, 2013 @ 15:01 by Jessica
  • -2 votes

I am most certainly NOT 'cussing' and 'dissing' your so called 'OUR GOD'. I believe in Him as well. The story of Adam and Eve, purely in my opinion (and many others), is just a mere metaphor for God's reason to allow suffering in the world. It didn't actually happen but the story helps us understand the concept of good and evil.

Answered Thu 6th September, 2012 @ 20:17 by Shan
  • -4 votes

Oh u believe in him... do you

sorry for the misunderstanding but i have 1 question....

If u believe in my so called "OUR GOD" why then why are u saying that the story of Adam and Eve is a mere metaphor for God's reason to allow suffering, what proof do you have?...... and what proof do you have that the story isn't real?

If your Muslim i hope you can accept my apology.

Answered Thu 6th September, 2012 @ 20:57 by Theophilus Taiwo
Edited by Theophilus Taiwo on Fri 7th September, 2012 @ 19:33