Murder, rape, war, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis all exist at certain times in the world we live in. It is extremely difficult to try to answer someone who has been affected by one of these occurrences, especially on a website by an amateur apologist. In fact a guy named John Stott has said, "Suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith." When people ask, "Why has this tragedy happened to me?" It is extremely difficult to give a satisfactory answer to someone who is grieving. This objection cannot be answered fully on this particular web page, but what I can do is offer some reasons why God is omnipotent (all-powerful) and benevolent (good), yet evil and suffering still exist.
The objection goes something like this: "If God is good and evil exists, then He must not be powerful enough to stop it." OR "If God is all powerful and evil exists, He must not be good." The person who raises this objection is trying to disprove God's existence, by the existence of what we would call evil. What is evil? Evil is a value judgment that must be measured against a morally perfect standard in order to be meaningful. In other words, evil is a departure from a perfect standard of good. C.S. Lewis, as a skeptic, once said, "My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call something crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line." Christianity is the only worldview that has an answer to evil and suffering. Atheism can't identify it, eastern religions ignore it, and Islam can't explain it with any degree of depth. Only Christianity provides an answer: we are living in a broken and fallen world, which is a far cry from what it was before human sin entered in and the whole of creation became cursed. The world we live in now is not the way it was intended to be, and someday it will be restored to that perfect state.
So why does God put up with so much evil and suffering in the world? The same reason he puts up with you and me. We live our lives in rebellion to God, constantly disobeying Him, ignoring him, refusing to live according to His laws, and then we have the nerve to question His goodness. And ask why things aren't the way we believe they should be. For the most part, the only time we call on the Lord is when things go wrong. We wonder where He is, and how He could let this happen. Suffering is the result of human sin. If you think God should stop evil and suffering, then should God then stop all evil and suffering? If God only stopped some of it, then we would still be asking the same question of why that smaller amount exists. So, if we want God to stop evil and suffering, then He must stop all of it. Have you ever done or thought anything evil? Have you ever caused suffering to someone? We're ok with God stopping a serial killer or a catastrophe, but what about evil of a lesser degree. Now the exercising of our will is affected. God would therefore become a puppet master, and we'd have strings tied to us. God does prevent and restrain some acts of evil. This world would be unbearable if not for God's common grace of restraining evil. Indeed God has given us the ability to choose good and evil, and when we choose evil, He allows us, and those around us, to suffer the consequences.
Sometimes evil and suffering are the result of the wrath of God. "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness." Romans 1:18 To the children of God, suffering may be a direct result of God's discipline. "And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Hebrews 12: 5-6 Sometimes we learn our greatest lessons after having suffered the consequences of our actions, and this is good. Look at the discipline a loving parent has for his/her child. A loving parent stops their child from playing in the street. The child "suffers" at the moment by being denied freedom to go wherever he pleases, and the temporary pain of a spanking if he violates this rule. But the parent sees the "big picture" and disciplines the child. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
Also, can't God take a bad thing and make good come out of it? To see an example in the Old Testament, read the account of Joseph in the latter chapters of the book of Genesis. God certainly can allow evil to accomplish His ultimate will.
How about the greatest example of this in history -
It is because of the Cross that we have forgiveness of sins. Christ was crucified by evil people (Acts 4:27-28). This means that God had incorporated into His divine plan the reality of evil and suffering in order to accomplish His will. God didn't create this evil, but worked above it to accomplish His greater good. If this is true on a large scale, why can't it also be true on a smaller scale in each of our lives?
How could God display some of His greatest attributes like: grace, mercy and forgiveness, if there is no reason to do so? In fact, there will come a day when the Lord will return and cleanse this world of all sin and all suffering. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Revelation 21:4 Instead of blaming God and accusing Him of not taking care of evil and suffering in the way our finite minds believe He should, we should be announcing from the mountaintops the ultimate cure for all evil and all suffering: SAVING FAITH IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.