The Bible teaches that God created man (and woman) with the ability to choose and to make decisions. He was given this ability because God wanted companionship with someone who would choose to respond to Him (Gen. 1:26, 27; 3:6-13). Without the power of choice, mankind would be a mere machine. By giving man and woman the capacity to choose, God risked the possibility that they would make a wrong choice. When man chose to disobey God's one restrictive command, he sinned (Gen. 2:15-17; 3:1-6; Rom. 5:12). Adam and Eve lost their innocence by choosing to disobey God.

God's holiness demands that He judge and punish man's disobedience. As a result, Adam was subjected to physical and spiritual death, and the earth was cursed. The earth is now subject to natural calamities (Gen. 3:17; Rom. 8:20-23).

Creation was made subject to vanity, that is, "without value, or usefulness, or profit" (Rom. 8:20). Things were thrown sufficiently out of joint that each project seemed to end in failure and accomplish little which could be considered good in the ultimate sense. Creation was subjected to corruption (Rom. 8:21). The processes of decay, disintegration, dissolution, and death were begun and have taken their toll through the centuries. The creation now groans in despair, crying for deliverance (Rom. 8:22, 23). From a human point of view, God, in anger or disgust, could have abandoned or destroyed man. Instead, He promised (Gen. 3:15) and sent (John 3:16) a Savior.

God's love and patience are long suffering (2 Pet. 3:9). He continues to allow men and women to choose to reject His plan of salvation through Christ (John 3:16; 3:36; 1:12; Rom. 5:8). Because God allows us the right of choice we can make choices not only in the area of eternal destiny, but in other matters as well. Unfortunately, however, our choices (because they are not His choices) often result in personal harm or in harm to others. God allows these choices - even wrong ones - because He is longsuffering. He is permitting man and women time to make the supreme choice of Himself (John 3:36; 2 Pet. 3:9). However, God's patience will not last forever. He warned His people before the Flood of His waning patience (Gen. 6:3) and Peter notes that God's patience, as in the Flood time, will once again cease (2 Pet. 3:4-16).

Today the question frequently asked is, "Why would a good God permit suffering, war, famine, and man's inhumanity to man?" Often the argument runs this way:

"A world which is obviously full of evil and suffering…could not be attributed to an omnipotent, holy God. If God were omnipotent and yet allows evil to develop and continue, then He is not good. If God desires to rid the world of evil, but is unable to do so, then He is not omnipotent. In either case, He cannot be an omnipotent, all-righteous God, so the objection goes, and therefore the God of the Bible does not exist."

The Christian should be prepared to answer these questions. To answer, keep in mind the four key words - choice, sin, holiness, and patience. All the evil in the world today - in the final analysis - is the result of sin, man's wrong choice. God's holiness had to judge sin, but He did not, indeed could not, originate it (Jas. 1:13-15). One day, however, God will permit evil no more. The curse and the effects of sin will forever be removed (Rev. 22:3, 4; 15:27; Isa. 65:17-25; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13). When that day finally comes, those who have not chosen Christ as Savior will have no further chance to do so. Their doom will be eternally sealed.

Presently, God waits patiently, giving all an opportunity to make the right choice. Because we all have friends and family members who have as yet not decided for Christ, we ought to thank Him for His patience and get busy discharging our responsibility in His program and plan (instead of resenting God for allowing evil to continue and feeling sorry for ourselves).

A study of pain and suffering in the Bible reveals that it all can be explained in terms of:

  1. The influence and activity of Satan (Gen. 3:15; Job 1-2; 1 Cor. 7:5; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; Rev. 2:9; 13:1-18)
  2. The wickedness of man's heart (Jer. 17:9, 10; Matt. 27:18; Acts 2:23; 4:10; James 4:1-3)
  3. The judgment of God (Rom. 5:12-21)
  4. The wisdom of God using even the sinful "wrath of men" to effect His purposes (Psa. 76:10; Gen. 50:20).

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