How can God be good and loving and all powerful and allow all the pain that exist in the world?
The reality is that because God is good and loving and all powerful He must give pain to our world because it is fallen. There are at least four purposes for pain
1. The Great Restrainer.
God gave us pain as a restraint. In a world filled with sin pain keeps us in check. A sin cursed world without pain would be a terrible place. I could steal and it would not matter because my stealing would not cause pain. Perhaps there is a law that puts me in prison for stealing. Prison would not be corrective or a deterrent because it would not cause me any pain. Pain provides boundaries and allows for a just society in a fallen world.
2. The Great Revealer
God gave us pain to reveal to us that we were not sufficient in and of ourselves. Every time we get sick or end up in the hospital it points to something not being right. When someone sneezes or coughs we have all heard people say, “What’s wrong? Are you sick?” Why would being sick be considered wrong? Because something within us tells us that this is not ideal. We all have experienced pain in relationships that exist or relationships that have ended. That pain points out the imperfection that exist here. It causes us to long for something more and better. God placed this within us so that we would look for something more. That which we look for is God. He has made a conditional promise that in the life to come there will be no more pain because there will be no more sin.
3. The Source of Meaningful Retribution
God tells us in His word that the wages of sin is death. Lets take a quick glance at God’s law to see what sin is in God’s mind. Have you ever held anything in your heart as more valuable than God? That is making a god of something and putting it before Him. Have you bought any kind of graven image like a Buddha or a Hindu god and put it in your house, garden or car? You may not have bowed down to it but you are not even to have it. Having an innocent image of something that you honor over God no matter what it is could make that item an idol. It could be as innocent as a globe or a dolphin. If it is so important to you that it directs your life it may be an idol to you. God calls that sin. Have you ever used God’s name as a foul filth word to curse? God calls that blasphemy, and promises judgement on those that commit it. Do you set aside a day to honor God and all that He has given us? That is a violation of the fourth commandment. Have you always honored your father and mother? Jesus said that if you have a hate filled anger toward someone, God sees that as equal to murder. Have you ever done that? Jesus declared that lusting was equal to adultery. Are you guilty of that? Have you ever stolen anything? The value is unimportant. (Walked off with a pen, been given too much change and kept it, etc.) Have you ever lied? God says that all liars have their place in hell. Did you ever want something that was not yours? Thats called coveting and that violates God’s tenth commandment. If He were to judge you by His law would you be innocent or guilty? If you have fallen short in one of these laws it is a violation of the entire law because in order to be pleasing to God you must have kept all of the law for all of your life. If you fail then God will use pain as a means of bringing a just satisfaction for violating His eternal law and righteousness. Retribution in hell will be eternal for the guilty. No one is forced to face that hopeless eternity. We choose it when we reject His offer of salvation.
4. The Resource for Future Praise
God sent Jesus to die on the cross for sin. He took God’s wrath so that we do not have to experience it. Not only will God see His Son’s sacrifice as an acceptable payment for our sins but He promises to give us eternal life and wipe away all pain. In order to receive this we must believe that Jesus died for our sins. We must repent of our sins and our rebellion against God. We must accept Jesus as our Lord and master. The salvation we receive from God is truly a gift and helps to make sense of lots of things. In God’s eyes according to the Bible the sacrifice of Jesus is the central point of all history. It is the glory of God displayed to man in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. God has given us pain in this life so that in the life to come we will realize the depths of the love of God for us. God set His love upon us and sent Jesus to die because of that love. The depth of that love is displayed in the suffering of Jesus under the wrath of God on the cross. In order to adequately understand and grasp the depth of that love we must understand what pain is. God has allowed us to experience pain so that we will have a resource for praising God in the future when there is no pain. When those of us who have come to Him as Lord and master see the nail prints in His hands and feet we will have a resource in the memories of pain we have experienced in the past to understand the depth of His love and praise Him for all of eternity. So all of the pain we experience in this life becomes a resource for future praise to all of those that repent, believe in and accept the Lord Jesus Christ.