The Problem of Evil Is a Problem for Everyone

Gavin Ortlund | January 13, 2017

If God is all-good and all-powerful, why is there so much evil and suffering in the world?

This question, the age-old “problem of evil,” is probably the greatest argument of all time against the existence of God. And the question has both a “global” and a “local” presence—it’s a logical dilemma puzzled over by philosophers, and an emotional struggle every sufferer will face. It’s both academic and everyday.

When we are with someone who is suffering, it’s often best to avoid words altogether and stick with tears, silence, and prayers. In my pastoral role I often have the privilege of sitting with people in deep grief. In those moments, it usually does more harm than good to offer encouragements, or even interpretations. The best thing is simply to sit with them in the darkness. As my brother Dane puts it, “That Romans 8:28 comes before Romans 12:15 in the canon doesn’t mean it should in our counseling and friendships.”

But sometimes, either for someone else or for ourselves, we must provide an answer to the “why?” question. When we see deep suffering, does it mean God doesn’t care, or can’t help it, or isn’t there at all? One of the best strategies…

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