Several years ago Rabbi Harold Kushner had the tragedy of watching his young daughter slowly die of a horrible disease. Through this pain, Kushner came to decide that God is good and cannot desire such evil, therefore He must be limited in His ability to do anything about helping hurting humans in their suffering. Kushner accepted that God exists, but could not accept that God would allow horrible things if He could prevent them, therefore Kushner concluded that God could not prevent evil. God is therefore finite and limited, according to Kushner. He spells this out in his book Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?
However Kushner’s conclusion is not necessarily logical nor inevitable. As Norman Geisler so aptly pointed out in several places, we can also conclude that God will right every wrong in eternity. It could very well be that God has an overarching purpose for people, and since we are finite, we may not understand His ultimate purpose. The scriptures give us an analogy of God being a Father and we being a child. Have you ever tried to explain an adult purpose to a small child? Despite your best intentions, sooner or later the child will ask “Why?” and you will simply answer, “Because I said so.” To the child they are genuinely suffering, but you know that in order for them to grow, they must go through the pain. As C. S. Lewis said, “Pain is God’s megaphone.”
But the view that Kushner presents assumes that this world is the end of things. What if there is an eternity, and an eternity with a purpose? Does not the Potter have authority over the clay, without asking the clay what it wants to be?
Philosophers have also questioned, asking “If God is all-powerful, then why couldn’t He make a world where people could mature without suffering?” and “If God is all-powerful, why couldn’t He stop the worst of it?” These are valid questions. As to the first, God cannot make impossible and contradictory things. He cannot make a square circle, or a stick with only one end, or two mountains without a valley between them. Nor can He make people to mature without growth. As to the second question, how do you know He isn’t already stopping the worst of it? Could God not already be restricting the worst of evil? We can all think of how things could be worse. Remember our small child? The child often experiences pain and thinks that nothing could be worse, but the parent knows there can be much worse suffering, and is protecting the child from the worst suffering.
But the question about why bad things happen to good people assumes that people are good. Instead, we are told in scripture that none of us are good. Romans 3 says that we have all gone astray, the poison of asps is under our tongues, for we have all sinned. Only God is good. The question should rather be, “Why do good things happen to bad people?”
Ultimately, we are forced to recognize the pain of suffering as real pain, and throw ourselves on the mercy of God and not lose trust in Him, for He is our only source of salvation.