Sceptics (and Saints, if we are honest) often ask the question: why does a loving God allow suffering? If he was loving , the sceptic says, then he would NOT allow people to suffer in this way; if this is your God then we can’t believe in him.
One evangelical response says that trials are sent to test us and that during our trials we learn to rely on God. While this is true, Joni Eareckson Tada gave a more nuanced response. Here is a woman who understands what suffering is. Injured in a swimming accident 46 years ago which left her a quadriplegic, she suffers pain on a daily basis.
In the early years she wanted to give up when she realised God wasn’t going to heal her physically: she believed she couldn’t live with her disability. However, she came to believe that God had a greater plan : a plan to advance his gospel which did not involve healing her disability.
Don Carson charts examples of suffering in the Bible, drawing on his book: ‘ How long O Lord: Reflections on suffering and evil.’ Carson uses six pillars to ground his response to suffering
Greg Koukl discusses why God can allow evil:
Koukl also discusses God’s sovereignty and the problem of evil:
Of course, evil raises deeper, philosophical problems for theism. Greg Ganssle sets out the problem of evil in these three videos:
Alvin Plantinga gives a logical, robust, rigorous response to the problem of evil:
Eleonore Stump gives a compassionate, thoughtful, insightful response in this interview:
Peter van Inwagen gives an excellent response in his article: The Problem from Particular Horrendous Evils.
He gives a calm, reasoned response to evil below.
This problem of evil is such a deep, intricate and subtle problem that we strongly recommend drawing on all the ideas developed above. When woven together, they suggest a strong Christian response to evil based on divine sovereignty, human responsibility and the offer of salvation.