Engaging views and analysis from outside contributors on the issues affecting society and faith today.

CP VOICES do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

The cross of Christ helps us make sense of suffering in the world


This Holy Week, Christians around the world celebrate the culmination of Jesus Christ’s ministry here on earth: His entrance into Jerusalem, His sharing of the Last Supper with His disciples, His arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection.

Our belief in these realities is what makes us distinctly Christian, but the crucifixion especially — commemorated on Good Friday — sheds light on the trials we all face in life and the awful reality of suffering.

Why does God allow so much pain and evil in the world?

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

It’s a big and profound question — and one Christians have been asking for centuries. The reality of evil is used like a cudgel by atheists to argue that an all-good, all-powerful, benevolent God does not exist.

In his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume — citing Epicurus — formulated the problem this way: “Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent? Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent? Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”

In other words, if God is all-powerful and all-good, says Hume, then we should expect that He would want to reduce or eliminate the amount of evil in the world. Since we do witness much evil in the world, God — at least as Christians conceive of Him — must not exist.

This is known as the logical problem of evil.

Philosophers have formulated various theological in response to the problem of evil, including the free will theodicy and the skeptical theist defense, and others.

But here’s an important point you may not have heard of before; contemporary philosophers widely regard the logical problem of evil as solved.

The possibility that God has an overriding and morally valid reason for permitting evil to exist, perhaps to bring about a greater good, to build up our souls, to prepare our hearts for ministry, or because evil is a radical consequence of human free will, solves the logical problem of evil.

We also know from Scripture that God can and does bring good out of evil: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, ESV).

Noted Christian philosopher William Lane Craig has put it this way,  “So long as it is even possible that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil, it follows that God and evil are logically consistent.”

As a result, what is now generally argued by atheists is known as the evidential, rather than the logical, problem of evil. Because there is so much evil and suffering in the world, it is highly unlikely that God exists, they argue.

While there are various defenses against this claim, I’d like to propose just one.

We can believe in and trust in God — who permits evil and suffering — precisely because He has chosen to suffer with and for us.

God, incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ, suffered the crucifixion on our behalf to take away our sins, save us from ourselves, and restore us to our original purity.

In his Compendium of Theology, Thomas Aquinas wrote, “To restore man, who had been laid low by sin, to the heights of divine glory, the Word of the eternal Father, though containing all things within His immensity, willed to become small. This He did, not by putting aside His greatness, but by taking to Himself our littleness.”

In His “divine rescue plan,” Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for our benefit — and to restore all things in Him. This is a profound mystery and a beautiful truth.

In Isaiah 53:5, we read the following Messianic prophecy: “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (ESV).

Christianity is the only religion in the world where God Himself suffers on behalf of His creation.

In his book Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, Tim Keller wrote, “In Jesus Christ we see that God actually experiences the pain of the fire as we do. He truly is God with us, in love and understanding, in our anguish.”

God is not far off, distant, and uncaring about our current plight. Rather, He entered His creation and experienced suffering as we do.

No one enjoys suffering. But it is precisely in our darkest moments that God draws closest to us. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, ESV).

In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

We may not know why exactly God allows every instance of suffering. Why did He permit that person’s cancer diagnosis? That woman’s miscarriage? The untimely loss of a loved one?

Maybe those sufferings are a part of your story too.

But we can know that the Divine Healer has suffered and died on behalf of you and me.

And we can know in our sufferings, we’re not without hope.

Pastor Keller adds, “While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.”

Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (ESV).

The crucifixion of Christ led to His resurrection three days later. We too have hope in our own resurrection from the dead when all things will be made new.

May you have a blessed Easter.

Zachary Mettler is a staff writer and communications liaison for The Daily Citizen at Focus on the Family. In his role, he writes about current political issues, U.S. history, political philosophy, and culture. Mettler has been featured in The Daily Signal, Life News, The Colorado Independent, and The Millennial Review. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running, hiking, backpacking, and walking his dog. Find his writing at:

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More In Opinion