People have countless doubts as to whether or not God exists and some seem to be more legitimate than others. However, if we were all honest with ourselves, we would probably all agree that we ask ourselves this question regularly: “God, if you exist and are good, why do you allow so much evil and suffering in our world?” This question has haunted people throughout history, and for many, leads them to disbelief in God. No doubt, the question has merit. If God exists and he is good, why is there so much evil and suffering in the world? This question is personal too. We can get on the Internet or check out social media and see all the evil and suffering happening throughout the world. Natural disasters are occurring. Terrorists are committing evil acts. But what makes this question most difficult is when evil and suffering occur in our own lives. Does a good God still exist when evil is committed against us or we suffer loss in some personal manner?
Why Evil and Suffering Is Proof God Actually Exists
Regardless of whether you believe in God, the existence of evil and suffering is still a reality. Pastor Tim Keller says it this way: “the problem of tragedy, suffering, and injustice is a problem for everyone. It is at least as big a problem for nonbelief in God as for belief. It is therefore a mistake, though an understandable one, to think that if you abandon belief in God it somehow makes the problem of evil easier to handle.”1 To recognize evil and suffering, however, is to recognize how things should be or the existence of goodness. When we look out on our world and see that things are not as they should be, we immediately understand and acknowledge that goodness must exist. But how could goodness exist on its own? Perhaps, the presence of evil and suffering actually demonstrates to us innately that good exists and that some being more powerful than us (i.e. God) must have created the universe as good. If that is not proof for God’s existence, then I’m not sure what is.
How God Demonstrates His Goodness In the Midst of Evil and Suffering
From what we’ve seen, evil and suffering point to the existence of goodness and the existence of goodness demonstrates the existence of God. God, however, does not stop there. Rather than run from the evil and suffering, God gets in the midst of it. In the face of evil and suffering, God sent his son, Jesus, to not just live among the suffering and evil but to also carry the wait of evil and suffering through his death on the cross. God not only suffered the loss of his own son but experienced evil and suffering first-hand through Jesus himself. Keller highlights this, writing, “God became uniquely and fully human in Jesus Christ and therefore knows firsthand despair, rejection, loneliness, poverty, bereavement, torture, and imprisonment. On the cross he went beyond even the worst human suffering and experienced cosmic rejection and pain that exceeds ours as infinitely as his knowledge and power exceeds ours.”2 While many might question the goodness of God because of the existence of evil and suffering, the fact that Jesus endured similar evil and suffering as you and I is incredible proof of both the existence and goodness of God. More than that, we can trust that God exists and is good because he not only endured the evil and suffering, he defeated it. While Jesus might have died upon the cross, he did not stay dead. Instead, three days after his death, he resurrected from the grave, defeating any evil and suffering we face today. When you question the existence or goodness of God in the face of evil and suffering, remember Jesus. He came, lived, died, and rose from the dead. Evil and suffering might exist, but Jesus is greater.
1Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Riverhead Books, 2008), 27.