Why Does God Allow Bad Things To Happen?

Let’s Explore the Answer

If ever there was a foundational question, asked by millennia of Christians and non-Christians alike, it would most likely be, “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”

No matter where you find yourself on the spectrum of religious beliefs, (or no beliefs at all), you’ve probably asked this question yourself, wondering how an all-powerful God can allow so many tragic things to happen in the world.

While this question is difficult to answer, there are indications from the Scriptures as to why a loving and just God would allow suffering. Let’s take a look at what both skeptics and atheists have to say, and what the Bible confirms. Our hope is that by the end of this page, you’ll have a better grasp as to why God allows bad things to happen.

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What Skeptics & Atheists Say

For many skeptics, the fact that there are heinous crimes committed in the world, without intervention from God, indicates to them that God is either far removed from people’s lives, or He isn’t who He says He is.

Atheists, who have denied the existence of God altogether, point to tragedy as a confirmation of their conclusions. And sadly, the atrocities of the world around them make it even harder for them to consider the existence of a higher being, let alone a loving God.

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What The Bible Says

This leads us to the Biblical explanation of why God allows bad things to happen. If we start with the first account of murder, in Genesis 4, we see that Cain had the inherent intention of killing his brother, Abel. Completely outside of God’s will, and despite a clear warning, Cain still chose to kill Abel in a fit of jealousy and rage.

This example shows that mankind was created with free will – the choice to make decisions, both good and bad. Therefore, one Biblical reason why God allows bad things to happen is that people have the freedom to live and act according to their own decisions. While God desires for man to live in peace with Him and others, our own choices are the cause of much pain and grief.

Looking at James 1:2-3, which reads, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance,” we are given another reason why God allows bad things to happen.

As trials come (as they do for us all), they test the strength of our faith. This process can be likened to a silversmith who refines silver. As the heat intensifies, dross rises to the surface and is removed to make the silver pure. So it is with our faith, that in every trial, we are tested, refined, and made stronger than before.

Ultimately, we cannot speak for God or make assumptions as to why He allows bad things to happen. We can, however, rely on the Bible to guide us. And according to verses like Isaiah 30:18, we are assured that “the Lord is a God of justice.”

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Pascal's Wager

In the seventeenth century, a famous philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, encouraged people to make a wager when it came to belief in God. If a person chose to believe in God and God did exist, that person would gain everything (eternal life). If a person chose to believe in God and God did not exist, that person would lose nothing. On the other hand, if a person chose not to believe in God and he was right, he would lose nothing. But if that person did not believe in God and he was wrong- he would lose everything (lose eternal life).

This wager can be said another way:

Based on this logic, Pascal suggested the rational person would choose to believe in God as believing offers a person everything (eternal life) while losing nothing. Wherever you are in your faith journey, would you consider taking Pascal’s wager? If the good God of the Bible exists, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by believing in Him today.

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Life can feel truly overwhelming for everyone at times, which is why people so often use prayer - or simply put, a conversation with God - to ask for hope, strength, guidance, or circumstantial change in difficult times. "Putting it in God’s hands" when we’re facing any number of obstacles can provide great comfort and peace in a world that we know is out of our own control.

The Bible teaches us that prayer is powerful and effective, both in communicating with God and in bringing peace to those who pray. We consider it an honor to be able to talk personally with the God who created us, with confidence that He listens and cares. No matter your faith background, and whatever the challenges you’re facing, we’re eager to pray for you, your family members, or any of your loved ones. There’s nothing we’d love more than to present your requests to God and pray with you.