Our Readers Ask

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

God is not the cause of human suffering. “Far be it from the true God to act wickedly!” states the Bible. (Job 34:10) Who, then, is the prime instigator of misery?

Jesus called Satan “the ruler of the world.” (John 14:30) True, Jehovah is the Universal Sovereign. That position he will never relinquish. However, for a time, God has allowed Satan to rule most of mankind.​—1 John 5:19.

What kind of ruler has Satan been? Ever since his first contact with humans, Satan has been a murderer and a deceiver. Satan wreaks havoc on human society in profound ways. Jesus indicted him with these words: “That one was a manslayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.” (John 8:44) Jesus also said that the men seeking to kill him were children of the first murderer. They made themselves his children by acting like him. Like father, like son, the adage states.

Satan still fosters murderous attitudes in the hearts of mankind. For example, R. J. Rummel, emeritus professor at the University of Hawaii, U.S.A., estimates that from 1900 to 1987, various governments murdered 169,198,000 people during political purges, genocides, and indiscriminate acts of violence. That death toll is in addition to the tens of millions killed on the battlefield during the same period.

If God does not cause suffering, why does he allow it? Because universal issues, moral ones, raised a long time ago still need to be settled. Let us look at just one of them.

At the beginning of human history, Adam and Eve sided with Satan. They rejected God’s rule and chose self-rule, which was really rule by the Devil.​—Genesis 3:1-6; Revelation 12:9.

Jehovah’s sense of justice required that time be allowed for evidence to accumulate. What is the inescapable conclusion? Human rule under Satan’s influence leads only to suffering. Really, in the long run, God’s allowance of time has been for man’s benefit. How so? Those who study the evidence and believe it have the opportunity to demonstrate their willingness to be ruled by God. Those who learn of God’s standards and live by them have the prospect of living forever.​—John 17:3; 1 John 2:17.

True, for now, Satan has the world in his evil grip. But not for much longer. Soon Jehovah will use his Son to “break up the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) Under God’s direction, Jesus will mend broken hearts and restore shattered lives. He will resurrect back to life on earth billions of humans who have suffered and died over the centuries.​—John 11:25.

The resurrection of Jesus is an example of God’s victory over the works of the Devil​—a token of what is to come for humans who choose God’s rule. (Acts 17:31) The Bible directs our thoughts to that time to come with these comforting words: “God himself will be with [mankind]. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”​—Revelation 21:3, 4.