Why Does God Permit Evil and Human Suffering?

“Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” —Genesis 2:17

Why doesn’t God do something about all the suffering that is in the world today? Why does God allow an innocent baby to sicken and die? Multitudes are killed or maimed by tornadoes, cyclones, typhoons, and earthquakes—cannot God do something about this? When hundreds are killed in accidents over a single weekend … “Has God no pity?” As far back as history reaches, man has suffered and died in war, pestilence, famine, and calamities. And all in every generation have finally died, having been beaten down by the great enemy Death. Abel, a son of Adam, whose sacrifice was pleasing to the Lord, was the first to die, being murdered by his brother Cain. Today more than a hundred thousand humans die every day. Our hospitals and mental institutions are filled with the suffering and dying. No wonder many are wondering where God is, and what He is doing about the distresses of humanity.

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25 comments to Why Does God Permit Evil and Human Suffering?

  • I remember when I first read The Divine Plan of the Ages (1988), I flipped through the pages and read chapter 7 on “The Permission of Evil”, it certainly opened my eyes. It was so different from what I was taught as a Jehovah’s Witness.

  • traveler

    Hi all, when God shared the fact that he had no beginning it set us free as moral agents to chose to stand with him or against him; for or against what he called right and wrong. It has long been a common mistake to think that there was no beginning for God. God states he “has” no beginning which he wouldn’t have unless he ran into another being who could relate this beginning to him. The other possibility would be if God found some thing that showed him how he began. The Bible makes clear God “has” neither of these answers.

    So God shares this information with the angels and mankind. The result was us being freed as moral agents. A group of angels lead by Satan, as he came to be called, along with Adam and Eve asked the question, “If there is a possibility of something unknown, how can you be sure you are the one to decide right and wrong for us?” This question was exercised when Satan talked Eve into taking the forbidden fruit in the garden. God allowed the asking or testing of his sovereignty or right to decide. Obviously the question would have to have an answer before the consideration is over. So God who is himself bound by a moral law of truth, “God can not lie”, must allow the question to continue through a multi-generation consideration until it is answered. This allows for the creating of realities that God does not believe in. It also means that things happen that God cannot stop. When the little girl gets run over by the truck, it was not because God needed another little angel, it was because in these realities that angels and mankind are responsible for time and unforeseen occurrence befalls us all. God cannot stop this question so those damaging the earth, those causing us to have pain and sickness are the responsibility of the angels and mankind .

    (Ecclesiastes 9:11, 12) . . .I returned to see under the sun that the swift do not have the race, nor the mighty ones the battle, nor do the wise also have the food, nor do the understanding ones also have the riches, nor do even those having knowledge have the favor; because time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all. 12 For man also does not know his time. Just like fishes that are being taken in an evil net, and like birds that are being taken in a trap, so the sons of men themselves are being ensnared at a calamitous time, when it falls upon them suddenly. . .

    Yes, in certain cases God can act. The angels and mankind tried to change the nature of the question by introducing a new race, the offspring of angel and mankind called the Nephilim. God wiped this attempt out with the flood. Satan and mankind teach their version of things, so God gave us the Bible. Satan has empowered many to serve his will, so God also empowered his son and others to give us understanding and aid whenever possible. We will stop here but think you probably have the idea that God is not responsible for the suffering, we are. He will be responsible as the only Savior (note the capital) as the only Almighty God, responsible for saving us. This is achieved through his son, our savior or the one among mankind that presents himself a savior to carry out the will of the only true “Savior Yahweh”. Note again capital S.

    Isaiah 43:10 11 “Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none. I—I am Yahweh, and besides me there is no Savior.”

    (Jude 25) 25 to [the] only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, might and authority for all past eternity and now and into all eternity. Amen. . .

    • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

      So Traveler we ARE Jehovah God’s reality along with his Son. I read your comment with the person in the car and it made for some respectful thinking on how glad we are that HE is faithful and can not lie. As long as he exist we will; for without him there is no life or reality. It boggles the mind and I appreciate you at least exercising your mind and brain to let us think about it. Something like this would have been frowned on within the witness congregation but as you mentioned, we are free not just as moral agents but free to think without penalty. Hey please tell your wife hello and so glad she made it.

      • traveler

        Thanks Jacqueline. Knowing that this being God is himself pursuing truth and creating a reality that will lead to continued life, that he wises us to know only right and is shielding us from wrong, when we let him and when he can. knowing that he is cultivating a relationship with us of reason out of love, really allows us to appreciate that he is our friend in a personal way. A God that knows everything, can do anything, and yet allows the billions who suffer as is believed in the “Theory of the trinity”, is not only irrational conceptually, it’s a horror for the mind to contemplate. we are traveling at the moment but when possible we are working on an answer for you on the resurrection.

        Just a bit of history, for the forty five years I was in the truth and the twenty years my wife has been associated with the organization, we have gone through one committee after another. We presented these trains or as we like to call them trails of thought from the Bible to so many, one then two elders, that we couldn’t even count the number of encounters. Yet not in even one case did they find fault with the scriptural thoughts we presented. Each time resulted in the conclusion “write the organization with this, the general congregation is not strong enough to know or deal with the truth you’ve presented”. This statement stood even when we pointed out that most of what we had said was printed present truth in the organization’s publications. We owe Ray Franz and his writing team some credit for that. In all cases the elders said, “yes we will knowingly teach wrong scriptural understanding if the organization directs us to.” To be fair we were protected by many elders over the years from the inevitable witch hunts that other elders lower in the ranks wished to conduct to show loyalty to the organization.

        • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

          Travelers, don’t worry about the ressurrection things i brought up it allows others thoughts to search for themselves.
          Like you, I was protected from disfellowshipping by a few elders in my last congregation when I spoke up with the Bible’s answer rather than the watchtower. (I also had a restraining order against any retaliation from the brothers for taking them to court and winning).
          So glad you haven’t written a letter or allowed them to DF you. Never give anybody that kind of power over you. You are not owned by these men so you keep talking and thinking. You are not a slave and need to let Master know you are leaving.lol. But so glad to hear you read Ray Franz book. He landed in our Circuit after he left bethel and my brother sat on his appeal committee. He was so overcome with them DF this good man that he stopped going to the meetings for a while and drove 50 miles to the Spanish cong to “serve where the need is great”. But it was to cope. He didnt learn from the evil things he has seen within the org.(He lived at bethel& did oversees missionary work).He has worked hard to destroy my family relationship and he and a son has been victorious to a certain extent, but I have learned to cherish good friends that I have and the few family still within that love me, plus I always visited non witness family, so I am good.
          I want to apologize to you for coming down about your long comments. I understand what you are doing now. Welcome, you are tough. Take care of your wife’s health. Jacqueline
          PS: I agree unless a person is called out or awakens for some reason himself, they are not able to assimilate anything other than what the governing body spoon feeds to them.

  • Jacqueline

    The Jaycee Dugard story is on NBC for a two hour special. Tey mentioned that the wife was one of Jehovah Witnesses. It is alledged that he was a prisoner that studied and she married him. There are also other allegations but in so many instances there is a witness connection to so many horrible crimes. The father that recently killed his wife and kids, a brother. It is always twisted thinking involved and sexuality. Strange, just strange. So glad the precious girl survived.
    Barbara Anderson and I discussed the other day, why Oprah or some other show have not done a piece on Candace Conti and the other numerous pedophile cases. Most people feel witnesses can leave, that if they believe God will just save them at armageddon that they are beyond help. They have not bonds holding them. This little girl’s experience shows what abuse can do to you. Even tho some are free to leave they can’t. The abused mind is hard to understand. This is a sad story. Yet she is just one of millions of children that are kidnapped molested and raped. Adam could not have guessed what he let come in on us. That’s why Jesus and God ransoming us and shortly righting these wrongs. People will have as a record what it is like to live without God’s guidance. Ps37:9,10 says and a little while longer and the wicked will be no more. This is a millenium fulfilled scripture and we wait for that day.

  • Undecided name

    The story of Job is, for me, a disturbing one. It doesn’t portray God in a particularly good light. It shows him as a vindictive God, seeing men as little better than playthings..the basics being that the Devil made a bet with God, and for GOd’s own pride and arrogance he crushed a man to ensure that he won that bet.
    So “Why is there evil if god is good”? Well Job certainly does not provide that answer. The humble christian answer should be “We don’t know”. But that is an unsatisfactory answer for you religious cowards. And it should be an unsatisfactory answer for someone who truly wishes to deepen their faith. It is however, the only honest answer. To me the extreme suffering of some and not others is intolerable and as a thinking, feeling being, it goes against my sense of justice and fairness. But it does not go against yours.

    • Jacqueline

      Hello, I’m so glad to see you came back. I didn’t mean to hurt or offend you last time but it seems I did. I am sorry, will you please forgive me. I am going to let some of the brothers that are more seasoned answer you. I am just so glad to see you back. Take Care. Sincerely from the bottom of my heart, Jacqueline

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Undecided – I appreciate your passion on this heart wrenching topic.  I hope you will find a satisfying answer if you take the time to listen to the recently posted talk, “A God Who Hides Himself.”  Space does not here permit an adequate response, but I will share some thoughts with you. 

      If you have read our articles on this topic and still find yourself unsatisfied, I will venture guess that you have experienced your own set of horrible tragedies in life and have perhaps concluded that Jehovah has no personal interest in you or love for you.  I believe He does love you very dearly. 

      The answer is found in looking at the big picture, by remembering that this life is very short (James 4:14), but that Jehovah will eternally “wipe away every tear… there shall be no more death, nor crying, nor sorrow…” (Rev 21:4).

      In the case of Job, consider that God blessed his latter days mote than the former. He had seven more sons and three more daughters. He lived 140 years and saw his children to four generations. So Job got double the children to enjoy forever on paradise earth. Also consider that the teaching of Job faith and compassion is so important since He will be among the most prominent future rulers on Paradise Earth.
      Job repented and learned the lesson where his character was flawed (Job 42:5-6).

      Undecided – Life’s suffering can seem unbearable at times. Look to God for strength, encouragement, comfort, wisdom and guidance. Make the best of the rest of your life, because on Paradise earth we won’t have these type of opportunities to grow in faith and compassion from our suffering.

      John 15:7, “If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”

      Matthew 7:7-11 states, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

      Luke 11:13, “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

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