No matter how well a person lives his life there will inevitably come a time when they encounter if not experience evil. No one is immune from this and many people (including someone I think the world of) have difficulty coming to grips with the questions of “Why do good people suffer?” and “Why do evil people prosper?” The purpose of this article is to address the former question, though some of the arguments will hit upon elements of the latter.

While there is a virtually endless list of reasons and attempts to answer these two questions it would take an entire book, and perhaps more still, to fully answer the questions, which may not be possible. So for the purposes of this article four areas will be addressed. It is important to remember, though, that these four areas will not answer the question, just begin to do so.

To begin with lets look at Free Will. Scripture does not directly address Free Will, rather it shows us the effects of Free Will and we have coined the term ourselves. But even though it is not directly addressed in Scripture we clearly have the ability to reject God and his wishes and to do what we want to. God is Holy and Good, and if we went as He directed on all occasions then good would not suffer. But we do not always follow God, and as a result we produce evil ourselves. Since we produce our own evil it is possible that good people suffer, not by God’s design, but by our own.

The next element to look at is punishment. This is a direct result of using free will to disobey God. Punishment can take place in the form of at the end of time as shown in Matthew 25:46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. , but we are talking about temporal punishment. Temporal punishment is demonstrated in two ways. The first is the actual punishment such as shown repeatedly in the Book of Judges. The other is God stating that he will punish for doing evil as in Exodus 34:6-7 The LORD passed before him, and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, BUT WHO WILL BY NO MEANS CLEAR THE GUILTY, VISITING THE INIQUITY OF THE FATHERS UPON THE CHILDREN AND THE CHILDREN’S CHILDREN, TO THE THIRD AND THE FOURTH GENERATION.” (but who … generation made uppercase for emphasis.) So punishment for our sins is another reason that good people suffer. We are basically good, but being punished for an evil act.

Repentance is yet another reason why good people suffer. Please refer to Necessity of Repentance for the Scriptural reasons for repentance. Because God is Good and wants us to join Him in His Kingdom He may decide to cause such a calamity for us to bear that we turn from evil ways and repent and come to Him.

Similar to repentance is character building. The Lord not only wants us to turn to him, but to be able to persevere when times turn rough. To this end He will discipline us as shown in Hebrews 12:11"All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." So even though it requires some suffering on the part of good people, they are drought closer to God in the end.

No one answer is able to answer all theodicies, but a combination of reasons explains why evil is allowed.


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