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A space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith
“A huge resource to treasure.”
Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today

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Why Does Evil and Suffering Exist?

There are a number of explanations that Christians turn to when addressing the presence of evil and suffering in the world.


Many Christians would argue that evil and suffering are not God's responsibility, but the result of the misuse of free will. When God created the world, he gave humans free will; the freedom to make their own choices. So evil and suffering is the direct result of humans making poor choices, which brings about all the bad stuff in the world (moral evil). God doesn't interfere in our choices, even when we hurt someone else, because that would go against how he created us. He wants us to make the right choices, to follow his rules, of our own free will.


Some Christians believe that suffering has a purpose:

  • It can teach them empathy, which can give them greater compassion for others.
  • It can make them stronger people.
  • It can help them appreciate the things that they have, such as good health.
  • It can lead them to help others who are experiencing the same kind of suffering. Indeed, many charities have started because of the suffering experienced by their founders.
  • It can bring them closer to God, strengthening their faith, as they turn to him in their hour of need.



Some Christians believe that suffering offers them opportunities to help others, which helps them to grow in their faith. By helping others, they can show the love of Jesus to people.

The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats teaches that people who provide aid to others will receive a reward and go to heaven, whilst those who don't will be punished and sent to hell. By serving people who are suffering, Christians get a chance to show their devotion to God and be assured of a place in heaven.

This parable also shows that suffering is caused simply because people don't help each other at times.



Since the Fall  - when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were thrown out of the Garden of Eden - the world has been filled with sin, which in turn has resulted in the suffering experienced by many people around the world.


Some Christians believe that suffering is a test. They believe this because of a story in the Old Testament about a man called Job. He was a very holy man, who followed God's rules.

God permitted Satan to test Job, to see if he was as committed to God as he appeared. Satan proceeded to unleash all manner of evil and suffering on Job and his family, sons, and daughters, leaving Job very sick. Throughout this, Job stayed faithful to God, even sticking up for him with his friends. God rewarded Job richly, giving him back much of what he'd lost. 

Some Christians believe that if people get through the tests that are sent to them they will receive a great reward from God.


Christians believe that God has a plan for people's lives, which sometimes includes suffering. Whilst they may not understand the reason for their suffering, they should trust in God and his plan for their lives.