This past weekend, a friend of mine experienced something tragic. Traumatic. A travesty words cannot describe. She had some serious questions for me. One of her questions could be summed up into what is a struggle for many believers and a barrier for many non-believers:
Why does God allow bad things to happen? Why would a loving God allow his people to suffer?
First, let me say, God does not orchestrate or cause bad things. (Sometimes he allows what we see as bad [i.e. loss of job, illness, end of a relationship, etc.] in order to strengthen our character and draw us closer to him. This was not one of those things.) Only good can come from him. That being said, bad things happen every second of every day because of the fall of man. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and become their own gods–the second their greedy lips touched that bitter apple–all of humanity was doomed. We experience pain, trial, hardship, malice, evil, greed, deceit, because we live in a sinful world full of sinful people. God cannot put down his mighty hand and stop people from sinning any more than you and I can stop someone else from doing us wrong because we are given free will. We were given free will upon creation because if you’re made to love someone, it isn’t truly love. God cannot stop us from sinning–from hurting one another, from breaking each other’s hearts, from lying, dishonoring, hating–apart from wiping out the earth and bringing us all home. He doesn’t deliver us from the pain we experience just from living in this world because there are still so many unsaved and God wants to bring all His children home. We may want his kingdom to come now—swiftly and gloriously, so that you will experience no more pain and cry no more tears—but think of all the people you know who would die never knowing the magnitude of their Creator’s love for them. Never getting to accept his invitation of abundant joy and abundant life. A joyful life that continues after death.
Gods heart is so grieved each and every day for the evil that goes on in this world. But he doesn’t put an end to it and call us all home so that those who don’t know him may have the opportunity. May come to know his power. His grace. His love. His goodness. God is merciful. He wants us all home with him.
The fact is our God loves us. Fiercely. Wholeheartedly. Jealously. He loves us too much to let us go.
So, my answer, in sum, to the question: God doesn’t end the suffering of humanity and bring us home so that more people will come to know him and experience salvation.