16 Bible Passages about Why God Allows Evil and Suffering in the World

Image from  Wikimedia Commons ;  British 55th (West Lancashire) Division  troops blinded by tear gas await treatment at an Advanced Dressing Station near Bethune during the  Battle of Estaires , 10 April 1918, part of the German offensive in Flanders.

Image from Wikimedia Commons; British 55th (West Lancashire) Division troops blinded by tear gas await treatment at an Advanced Dressing Station near Bethune during the Battle of Estaires, 10 April 1918, part of the German offensive in Flanders.

Many people have a difficult time believing the biblical truth that God is both good and great. They argue the following: If God is truly good, then he must not be great, because a good God would end the evil and suffering in the world. On the other hand, they say, if God is truly great, then he must not be good, because he could stop the evil and suffering but doesn’t. Here are sixteen Bible passages that help us understand why God allows the presence of evil and suffering in the world (all Scripture quotations from the English Standard Version):

God has a purpose in everything he allows.

1. The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. (Prov. 16:4)

God’s wrath is righteous.

2. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (Rom. 1:18-19)

The debased minds of the wicked are evidence of human rebellion against God. 

3. 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. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (Rom. 1:28-30)

God has the final say and is always loving and just.

4. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38-39)

5. What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. (Rom. 9:14-18)

God has a beautiful plan he will complete that we cannot fully comprehend now.

6. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they cannot fathom the work God has done from beginning to end. (Eccles. 3:11)

God will punish the wicked.

7. Everyone who is proud in heart is detestable to the LORD; be assured that he will not go unpunished. (Prov. 16:5)

8. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (Rev. 20:11-13)

God desires to show his wrath and make his power and the riches of his glory known.

9. What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Rom. 9:22-24)

God does not take pleasure in the destruction of the wicked but is patient towards humanity until the day of the Lord is here.

10. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? (Ezek. 18:23)

11. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Pet. 3:9-10)

God uses suffering to test the genuineness of our faith.

12. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:6-7)

13. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Pet. 4:12-13)

God is sanctifying believers through their suffering.

14. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Rom. 5:3-5)

15. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

God is working all things together for good for his saints.

16. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Rom. 8:28-29)

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