Does God cause misery and injustice?
We can look at these two separately.
As far as injustice, that is not something God does: it is something people do to each other. In fact, it is one of the reasons we say that people are sinful.
It is true that God will judge the world, but when he does, it will be a just judgement. Everyone would agree that it is just for God to say, “you have sinned, and therefore you are guilty.” (It would be unjust if God said, especially to someone like Hitler, “you have sinned, but it doesn’t matter.).
The Bible also uses the word “just” to describe God when he forgives people who are guilty. The words are in Romans 3:23: “Everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence. But by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with him through Jesus Christ, who sets them free. God offered him, so that by his blood he should become the means by which peoples sins are forgiven through their faith in Him. God did this in order to demonstrate that He is righteous (just).” In other words, it is just of God to forgive sins, because someone else has paid the penalty.
When it comes to “misery,” there is a lot to say. Sometimes we can point to something we have done that has caused us misery (if you touch a hot stove, you will get burnt), but most of the time we cannot point to a specific thing that caused a misery to come upon us. This is especially true of disease or an accident. In fact, it would be unhealthy if we tortured ourselves by wondering what we had done wrong for God to allow a misfortune to come upon us.
Though the Bible does not say why a certain person gets a certain disease, it does give the general reason why our world is full of difficulties and pain. It is because of sin. God created everything to be good, but when human beings decided to sin, the Bible says that the world became a difficult place to live in. Paul describes it this way in Romans 8:20: “all of creation was condemned to futility, not of its own will, but because God willed it to be so, yet there was the hope that one day creation would be set free from its slavery to decay.” This concept is presented in a concrete way in Genesis 3:17, where God tells man the results of his sin: “Because of what you have done, the ground will be under a curse. You will have to work hard all your life … it will produce weeds and thorns, … you will have to work hard and sweat to make the soil produce anything.”
This situation in which we now find ourselves is sometimes called “the human condition.” It is because of the human condition that we need a savior. Jesus expresses it this way, “In this world you will have troubles, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). The Bible describes what is neat about eternal life by noting that these troubles will not exist anymore. Revelation 21:3-4 describes the next world this way: “God himself will be with them, and he will be their God. He will wipe all tears from their eyes. There will be no more death, no more grief or crying or pain.”
Although the Bible does not tell us why a certain misery comes upon us, it does tell us certain things about living in this world which is full of misery.
1. God will be with us to help us endure our suffering: “God will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it.” ! Corinthians 10:13.
2. It is temporary. “For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical body is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day by day. And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that our unseen. What can be seen lasts only for time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
3. God can use it to our benefit. Consider Hebrews 12:10-11, which says that our human fathers “disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He [God] disciplines us for our good.”
4. It draws us to God. Paul writes this about the sufferings he went through: “The burdens that were laid upon us were so great and so heavy that we gave up all hope of staying alive. We felt that the death sentence had been passed upon us. But this happened so that we would rely, not on ourselves, but only on God … we have placed our hope in Him that he will save us again as you help us by means of your prayers for us.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.
This hope is not recognized by those who depend only on themselves, for it is “spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14). We help someone see that God is good not by delving into the mystery of human misery, but by showing Jesus on the cross as the proof of God’s goodness and love. “God loved the world to the point that he gave his only begotten son, so that those who believe in Him will not perish, but will have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
Written by Jim Found March 2015. Bible quotes based on Good News translation: Today’s English Version, © American Bible Society 1996 … 1992. The Hebrews 12 quote is from New American Standard, © The Lockman Foundation, 1960 … 1977.
How could Jesus’ death bring anything good into our lives? See Mission of Jesus
Go to more about God at objections menu
See another author’s article “Ten things you should know about apologetics.”