Does God Exist, Free Course, Lesson 8

The Problem Of Pain And Evil

Many atheists argue that the presence of pain and evil proves that God does not exist. This is false. God’s existence is not negated by posing perplexing questions. Rather, if anyone wants to disprove God’s existence, he has to establish suitable tests and proofs, as we have already demonstrated. 

Most people expect a loving God to control the Universe in such a way that there is no pain, evil, or exploitation. Consequently, they are very much perplexed on seeing these things all around. But it must be remembered that the presence of pain only increases the perplexity — it does not disprove the existence of God in any way. 

Let me illustrate it with a very crude, but helpful, example. All countries have police for preventing crime. In actual life, however, one finds a lot of crime everywhere. Does this imply that no police force exists in that place ? Any sane person would accept that the presence of crime and injustice does not prove that police force does not exist. Existence or non existence is not proved in this way ! 

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Even the fool can ask more questions than the wisest man can answer. Consequently it may not always be possible to give an answer immediately to every question. Further, many questions can be answered only when the questioner has a certain minimum background in the subject. For example, one can satisfy an interrogator on Quantum Chromo-dynamics only if the questioner has at least some background in this subject. 

The question of why God allows pain can be understood only after a person grows to a certain minimum level in his relationship with God. On reaching this level of spiritual maturity, he will be able to perceive that God uses pain as a powerful tool to shape raw men into mighty tools for His kingdom. 

When a loving father imposes preventive discipline upon his children, it is an expression of his love and concern. This, however, can initially be perceived only by the father and not by the children. In fact most children have to grow to a high level of maturity before they can appreciate what their parents did to them through preventive discipline. The subject requires such insight that some of them are able to appreciate the reality only AFTER they themselves become parents ! 

In Bible we see that many of the men who developed into great leaders and statesmen grew to this stature due to the way sufferings shaped them. This includes Job, Moses, Esther, Joseph, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego, and Paul. They were all people of flesh and blood like you and me. Further, there are numerous contemporary Christians who are willing to testify that God used their pain and sufferings in a special way. 

Among my friends and family members there are many who have suffered very much because of the untimely death of a father, mother, husband, or wife. There are others who at this moment are struggling with uncontrollable physical pain, handicaps, and physical deformities. Still others are suffering from incurable diseases, moving closer to death every day. You can interview any of them at any length, and all of them will tell only one thing — pain and suffering is not charming, but it has a purpose. They will tell you that they have a certain assurance that can come only after entering into a day-by-day relationship with God. 

If pain and suffering looks like a mystery to you then you should consider this : we all wish that the world were free of these things, but God has a purpose behind all this. This statement is attested by the numerous Biblical characters who rose to great spiritual heights after God trained them through pain. Further, tens of thousands of our own suffering contemporaries are willing to share their testimony — that God uses pain to draw people closer to Him, to make them better persons, and to use them to comfort others in pain. The presence of pain, therefore, does not automatically refute God’s existence. 


At times God’s silence perplexes many because they have not understood the cross of Christ. When you and I suffer, God might look like a detached spectator who has no sympathy with it all. In reality God is a fully involved participant in our pains and sufferings. 

The greatest agony suffered by anyone was at the cross when Christ died for mankind. God did not need to do this. He could simply have opted to wipe out this creation and bring forth another creation. But He chose the most difficult way — the way of taking it all upon Himself. 

Dying for man was no easy task for Lord Jesus. He had to bear the pain of all humanity’s sins upon Himself. This pain was so intense that one can begin to appreciate it only after living in personal relation with Him for quite some time. 

God is therefore not a detached spectator, watching joyfully the sufferings and miseries on earth. Lord Jesus, willingly, underwent the greatest suffering possible for anyone in this Universe. But this assertion can become meaningful only to those people who enter into a personal relationship with Him. 

You might say that you don’t want to enter into this relationship. If so, that is strange, and you are without excuse. When God Himself is offering you the New Life as a gift — after paying the cost Himself — you cannot advance a single good excuse for rejecting this offer.

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