Lee Strobel: why does God allow tragedy and suffering?

I found MP3 audio, video and a full transcript of Lee Strobel’s sermon on suffering at Apologetics 315.

Strobel has 5 points in his sermon:

  • God is not the creator of evil and suffering.
  • Though suffering isn’t good, God can use it to accomplish good.
  • The day is coming when suffering will cease and God will judge evil.
  • Our suffering will pale in comparison to what God has in store for his followers.
  • We decide whether to turn bitter or turn to God for peace and courage.

Here’s one of them:

Though suffering isn’t good, God can use it to accomplish good. He does this by fulfilling His promise inRomans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Notice that the verse doesn’t say God causes evil and suffering, just that he promises to cause good to emerge. And notice that the verse doesn’t say we all will see immediately or even in this life how God has caused good to emerge from a bad circumstance. Remember, we only see things dimly in this world. And notice that God doesn’t make this promise to everyone. He makes the solemn pledge that he will take the bad circumstances that befall us and cause good to emerge if we’re committed to following Him.

The Old Testament gives us a great example in the story of Joseph, who went through terrible suffering, being sold into slavery by his brothers, unfairly accused of a crime and falsely imprisoned. Finally, after a dozen years, he was put in a role of great authority where he could save the lives of his family and many others.
This is what he said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” And if you’re committed to God, He promises that He can and will take whatever pain you’re experiencing and draw something good from it.

You might say, “No, he can’t in my circumstance. The harm was too great, the damage was too extreme, the depth of my suffering has been too much. No, in my case there’s no way God can cause any good to emerge.”

But if you doubt God’s promise, listen to what a wise man said to me when I was researching my book The Case for Faith: God took the very worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the universe — deicide, or the death of God on the cross — and turned it into the very best thing that has happened in history of universe: the opening up of heaven to all who follow Him. So if God can take the very worst circumstance imaginable and turn it into the very best situation possible, can he not take the negative circumstances of your life and create something good from them?

He can and He will. God can use our suffering to draw us to Himself, to mold and sharpen our character, to influence others for Him – He can draw something good from our pain in a myriad of ways…if we trust and follow Him.

Click through for links to the audio and video, as well as a PDF of the full transcript.

I wrote a post on the problem of evil recently which surveys more academic responses to the problem of evil.

One thought on “Lee Strobel: why does God allow tragedy and suffering?”

  1. “He gives us beauty for ashes…that we might become oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for His glory.”


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