If God is good and God is all powerful then, why doesn’t he stop terrorist attacks?
The Problem of Evil
When we see the evil of a terrorist, we must first ask, “Why does evil even exist in the first place?”
If you program a robot to say, “I love you”, does the robot love you? No, it only says, “I love you” because it had no choice, it has no free will. And God created us to love.
So, for there to be love, there has to be the possibility to love and to not love, to choose what God wants (a moral good), or to choose what God doesn’t want (a moral evil). Evil exists because of our choice to do what God doesn’t want.
And because God is just, holy, righteous and good, he must deal with evil (Rom 6:23, Isa 30:18). God’s plan to deal with evil has a beginning, middle and end. Many times our confusion about evil is merely wondering why we’re not at the end of the story.
So now you might be thinking, “OK, I get it, to have moral beings, free will must exist; therefore evil has to exist and God will eventually deal with it…
…But why doesn’t he prevent an evil person from being so effective in bringing suffering? Can’t a terrorist just blow himself up and God intervene and prevent that person’s evil from causing others to suffer?
Evil vs Suffering
God’s goal isn’t the prevention of our physical death, or to prevent our current suffering. In fact, because of our sin, Christ had to go through both in order to deal with both (Luke 9:22). And now a Christian’s physical death leads to the end of our evil and suffering, as we enter into spiritual life (Rom 6:4-11, 1 Pet 3:18).
So how can the suffering caused by a terrorist help God’s goal to bring us into spiritual life?
Spiritual life isn’t just going to Heaven after you die, spiritual life begins the moment you are saved (2 Cor 5:17, John 5:24). And your spiritual life on earth has an eternal effect on your spiritual life in Heaven due to the rewards of faithfulness you displayed on earth (2 Cor 5:10, Rev 20:11-15, Matt 25:31-46).
So it’s not about preventing suffering in this life; it’s about your response to it, your faithfulness, and the growth of that faithfulness in the midst of suffering (Jam 1:2-4, Rom 5:3-5) by loving God and loving others (Matt 22:36-40, Matt 25:31-46).
The Nature of Suffering
Suffering is a hunger for something better – better health, finances, relationships. But that hunger eventually returns unless we are filled with something that is both perfect and eternal (John 6:35-40, Rev 21:1-4).
Our returning physical sufferings hungers for immorality. The ups and downs of our relationship suffering hungers for eternal perfect love. These can only be filled through Christ whose work brings us into this eternal perfection.
We needlessly put ourselves through a cycle of spiritual suffering and hunger when we look to imperfect, temporal things such as financial security, health, relationships, politics, when in fact, that same suffering should point us directly to the only one that can eternally deal with suffering.
God’s Providence: So Why Doesn’t God Stop Every Terrorist Attack?
A terrorist attack brings so many different types of suffering (pain, loss, hatred, insecurity) that we realize that the love of Christ is the only eternal answer to stop every type of suffering brought through an attack.
Each action we make has eternal consequences whether good or bad – both for the terrorist and the Christian. And we make these actions in the circumstances we find ourselves in – easy or hard. God allows humanity’s free will to continue in order to allow for these circumstances for you to do good, to love God and others, which has eternal consequences.
Make no mistake, we can’t escape God’s justice. A suicide bomber receives an eternal punishment in Hell in direct proportion to his crimes just as Christians will receive eternal rewards in direct proportion to their acts of love (2 Cor 5:10, Rev 20:11-15, Matt 25:31-46).
God doesn’t stop all terrorist attacks or all suffering in order to give you a stage to love – to love God who lovingly sent Christ, who is the eternal answer to evil and suffering, and by loving others during their suffering by serving both their physical and spiritual needs.
So when you are placed on a stage of great suffering, how will you act? Will you turn to temporary fixes or will you focus on the eternal solution of Christ by loving God and loving others?
When you meet people going through suffering, are you prepared to explain the love contained in the doctrine of suffering and the doctrine of providence?
So What Do I Do Now?
To walk in True Faith you must approach the three parts of faith
- Know God’s Word. 1) Study God’s providence. 2) Know the Scripture that deals with suffering well enough to help others.
- Have the Heart of God’s Word (of Christ). Identify which fruit of the spirit you are lacking when going through suffering, and work on it (Gal 5:22-23).
- Obey God’s Word in Wisdom. There are many types of suffering. Seek wisdom and advice on dealing with your own suffering as well as ministering to others. Everyone is different. Be wise in how you talk to them.
2. Much of my article is heavily influenced by R.C. Sproul’s amazing series The Providence of God. (Audio series, 6 episodes, free)
3. Another pertinent question would be, “If God is good, why do the Star Wars prequels exist?”