Why does God allow pain and suffering?


In one form or another, I get asked the following question all the time.

“If there is a loving God, how can He allow poverty, war, suffering, and all the other ills that are present in the world?”

I think the following story explains that most of what is wrong with the world is the direct result of sin and that God wants all men to turn from their evil ways and turn to Him.

A preacher and an atheistic barber were once walking through the city slums. Said the barber to the preacher: “This is why I cannot believe in a God of love. If God was as kind as you say, He would not permit all this poverty, disease, and squalor. He would not allow these poor bums to be addicted to dope and other character-destroying habits. No, I cannot believe in a God who permits these things.”

The minister was silent until they met a man who was especially unkempt and filthy. His hair was hanging down his neck and he had a half-inch of stubble on his face. Said the minister: “You must not be a very good barber because you wouldn’t permit a man like that to continue living in this neighborhood without a haircut and shave.” Indignantly the barber answered: “Why blame me for that man’s condition? I can’t help it that he is like that. He has never come in my shop; I could fix him up and make him look like a gentleman!”

Giving the barber a penetrating look, the minister said: “Then don’t blame God for allowing the people to continue in their evil ways, when He is constantly inviting them to come and be saved.”

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

– Matthew 7:7

“This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…”

-1 Timothy 2:3-5

*The story used in this post has been around a while; I am not sure who the author is.

Categories: Apologetics, Atheism, Christianity

Tags: , , , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Truth in Palmyra and commented:

    Since this seems to be a hot topic, I just had to share. Thanks to James for posting this. Blessings and enjoy!


  2. A friend and I were just discussing this topic so I wanted to share it, too.


  3. An age-old discussion to be sure! I love the analogy. It also reminds us that God does not want puppets to love and serve Him; he wants a love that is chosen.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A nice short and sweet tale with deep truths.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. great…insights, witness and words of encouragement to answer those who think GOD is responsible for your troubles

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you Sue, I liked the allegory of the Barber and it’s very True, God does not willingly allow Pain and Suffering or does He do or allow evil to bring good out of it, to claim this even about Believers the Scriptures say is Slander.

    The evil in the World grieves God greatly but if He was to stop all the evil like He did in Noah’s time, He would have to stop the World now but He is patient not wanting anyone to Perish meaning to be Eternally separated from Him in torment but if they won’t repent showing they believe in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, He won’t force them, it’s their choice, so True, He does not want Puppets.

    Of course it is not just our Sin that causes us Hardship although we do reap what we sow good and bad but we also live in a fallen World that Satan controls, he puts us to the test by Tempting us to do evil, seeking for us to reject Jesus.

    Those who walk in their Carnal flesh can hurt us too as Jesus said they would when we follow Him even those in our family or in Church and also Accidents happen and so does Chance. Sickness and death are part of this world, yes we will all die physically one day unless Jesus returns before we do and illness is the major one reason we die but as Christians God protects our Souls.

    I will share with you if wanted Sue what I was told at a Bible Study with New Christian too about God willingly allowing evil, how sad that some people are in darkness and cause others to be too.

    Christian Love Always – Anne.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh how simple this explanation is, so obvious. God, it is claimed gave us free will to make a choice and he loves us all equally. This choice is not free if you are forced to believe in something or be alternatively condemned to hell. Why give free choice and the access to many other emotions with the means of being rational, realistic and logical? Why give this free will to your creation when you already know what is going to happen to each and every one on earth anyway? How does love come into it when countless children who have no choice in anything are raped and abused every day and many thousands die from countless diseases or poverty and he already knew this would happen? What on earth was he thinking if he actually believed we would all be convinced he loved us and expect us to believe in Biblical scripture that fails the simple test of truth?

    You put this into an analogy of getting a haircut??? Really.


    • Steve,

      A lot going on here so let’s break it down, OK?

      Why do you say you are forced to believe something or be condemned? I hear this a lot but coercion isn’t God’s way.



    • I once read the story of a pastor who, after a debate with a non-Christian friend about heaven, said that it became very obvious to him that by not taking everyone to heaven, God was actually being very gracious. His friend had suggested that if God is truly loving he should really take everyone to heaven, regardless of their beliefs. The pastor then asked his friend if he would like to spend eternity under God’s rule worshipping Jesus with other Christians. The friend responded by saying that this sounded like his own personal hell and that he would be furious if God stuck him in a place like that forever.

      What some believers don’t understand is that unbelievers have chosen life apart from God. Their unbelief wasn’t just some crime that they were a victim of. It was what their heart wanted. That doesn’t make the thought of them in hell easy, nor does it make their afterlife enjoyable, but it does at least give it the sense of ownership and responsibility that is deserved on the part of the individual.


  8. I understand and I agree to some extent James, but why use the burning in hell and the iconic image of heaven as motivational tools if you have what is genuine credibility? God was supposed to have created us in his own image with his emotions and his free will, therefore, it indicates rejection was expected by some individuals and of course the threat of hell was cleverly designed to neatly diminish doubts and heaven obviously to install confidence and comfort for the potential believer.

    Of course, these Bible stories were written for early people well before modern western societies drove their emergence into what has become rapidly evolving science and technology. Heaven and hell would have been a very real consideration for the ancient masses and it worked as it was designed to do, however, this resourceful influence has abated considerably and this is reflected by the rise in non-believers. People are exercising their free will by using their knowledgeable head rather than their emotional heart and succumb to these old age influences. Atheists of course have weighed up all the religious packages and decided none of them are creditable.


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