Why a Good God Allows Suffering
by Randy Alcorn
Romans 8:28 tells us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Yet it is hard to believe lines like this when we witness bafﬂing, horriﬁc events. The primary Old Testament illustration of Romans 8:28 is Genesis 50:20. In that story, Joseph’s brothers betray him and sell him into slavery. Decades later he tells them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).
The Case of Joseph
With Joseph, God does more than just make the best of a bad situation; he uses it for ultimate good (compare Ephesians 1:11). Five chapters before declaring that, “God planned it for good,” Joseph said to his brothers, “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt” (Genesis 45:8). We see two wills at work here: Joseph’s brothers successfully perpetrated evil, and God successfully brought about good from their evil. God sovereignly worked so that the moral evil they committed — and the evils that resulted — were dramatically reversed to achieve his good purposes. As Joni Eareckson Tada puts it, “God permits what he hates to achieve what he loves.”
The Good of the Cross
The cross is God’s answer to the question, “Why don’t you do something about evil?” God did do something — and what he did was so powerful that it ripped in half, from top down, the fabric of the universe itself.