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Lee Strobel: Why Does God Allow Suffering ?

But why? If you ask me point-blank, “Why did God allow the terrorists to do this?” the only answer I can honestly give consists of four words: “I do not know.”

I cannot stand in the shoes of God and give a complete answer to that question. I don’t have God’s mind. I don’t see with God’s eyes. First Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”

So when you ask about specific individual events and want to know why this particular thing happened, we won’t get the full answer in this world. Someday we’ll see with clarity, but for now things are foggy. We can’t understand everything from our finite perspective. And frankly, the people suffering from any tragedy don’t need a big theological treatise right now; any intellectual response is going to seem trite and inadequate. What they desperately need now is the very real and comforting presence of Jesus Christ in their lives. And I’m so grateful that so many churches and ministries are helping people experience that.

But for us, let’s focus on the big, overarching issue of why does God allow suffering in our lives—your life and mine. Friends, this is important: Even though we can’t understand everything about it, we can understand some things. Let me give you an analogy.

Once Leslie and I were driving from Chicago to Door County, Wis., which is that thumb-shaped peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan. We were driving up the highway in the dark when it started raining heavily, and we hit dense fog. I could barely see the white stripe on the edge of the road. I couldn’t stop because I was afraid someone might come along and rear-end us. It was frightening!

But then a truck appeared in front of us, and we could clearly see his taillights through the fog. He apparently had fog lamps in front, because he was traveling at a confident and deliberate pace, and I knew if we could just follow those taillights, we’d be headed in the right direction.

And the same is true in understanding why does God allow suffering in our lives and in our world. We may not be able to make out all the peripheral details of why—they may be obscured from our view—but there are some key biblical truths that can illuminate some points of light for us. And if we follow those lights, they will lead us in the right direction toward some conclusions that I believe can help satisfy our hearts and souls.

What are those points of light? Let me go through five of them that I’ve personally found helpful whenever I’ve been prompted to ask the question, “why does God allow suffering?”

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

1. God is not the creator of evil and suffering.

This answers the question you hear so often: “Why didn’t God merely create a world where tragedy and suffering didn’t exist?” The answer is, He did! Genesis 1:31 says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

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lstrobel@churchleaders.com'
Lee Strobel was a legal editor for the Chicago Tribune and former atheist. Today he is a Christian apologist. He has served as teaching pastor of Willow Creek Community Church and Saddleback Community Church. He is best known for writing the semi-autobiographical bestsellers The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator and most recently, The Case for the Real Jesus. You may visit LeeÂ’s popular video apologetics web site LeeStrobel.com.