No child deserves to suffer abuse from their parents. If you have endured harm at the hands of those meant to protect you, the question of why a supposedly good and loving God would allow this is understandable and deserves thoughtful exploration.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: God does not directly cause abuse or wish suffering on anyone. But He has allowed humans free will, through which tragedy can occur. However, God can redeem any hardship when we seek Him in our pain.
The Origin of Suffering
God’s Good Creation
According to the Bible, God originally created the world to be perfect and without suffering. Genesis 1-2 describes how God created the heavens, the earth, plants, animals, and the first humans – Adam and Eve. God looked at everything He had made and saw that it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
The world was initially created to be a paradise, with no death, pain, or tears.
However, God gave humans the ability to make choices. This free will was part of being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27). But it meant that Adam and Eve could choose to obey or disobey God. Sadly, they chose to disobey and ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6).
Their sin introduced suffering and evil into the once-perfect creation.
The Entrance of Sin and Evil
After Adam and Eve sinned, God cursed the ground (Genesis 3:17) and banned them from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23-24). Life became difficult and painful. Adam and Eve’s eldest son Cain later murdered his brother Abel out of jealousy (Genesis 4:8). Sin and violence spread through generations.
The world today reflects these consequences of humankind’s rebellion against God. Diseases, natural disasters, wars, abuse, and death fill our world with suffering and tragedy. Every human inherits a sinful nature from Adam and Eve’s original sin.
However, the Bible promises that God will one day eliminate suffering completely. Revelation 21:4 says that in the future, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
For now, God can still use suffering to accomplish good purposes (Romans 8:28). But the suffering in this world is only temporary.
Why Doesn’t God Intervene?
The Gift and Burden of Free Will
God endowed human beings with free will, the ability to make our own choices. This allows us to experience love, creativity, joy and growth. However, it also means people can choose to harm others. God values human free will so highly that He generally does not intervene to prevent sin and suffering.
As painful as it is, God allows the consequences of free will to unfold. He seeks to bring good out of every situation, walking with those who suffer.
According to a 2018 Pew Research poll, 89% of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit. Yet many wonder, if God is loving and all-powerful, why doesn’t He prevent tragedy and suffering? This complex theological issue has been pondered for millennia.
But fundamentally, God’s respect for human free will is central. Love must be chosen, not coerced. Growth comes through adversity. God works through human choices – righteous and unrighteous – to ultimately achieve His good purposes.
Allowing Sin to Run Its Course
God has the power to instantly vanquish evil. So why does He allow oppression, violence and abuse to exist at all? The Bible teaches that humankind’s turn from God allowed sin to enter the world. This affects all people and systems.
While God regularly intervenes with mercy and miracles, He generally doesn’t override human free will to force righteousness.
However, Scripture promises that one day Christ will return to eradicate evil completely (Revelation 21:1-5). In the meantime, God patiently gives space for repentance (2 Peter 3:9), working even through suffering for redemption.
Believers are called to combat injustice in humble dependence on God (Matthew 25:31-46). While difficult to comprehend at times, God uses all circumstances to draw people to Himself.
Finding Hope Amid Suffering
God Understands Our Pain
Having abusive parents can be extremely painful and leave deep emotional scars. However, in these difficult circumstances, we can find comfort in knowing that God understands our suffering intimately. As Hebrews 4:15 reminds us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Jesus experienced rejection, betrayal, and unjust suffering, so He can relate to the pain of those who endure abuse. We can pour out our hearts to Him, and He will listen with compassion.
Though abusive parents betray their role, we have a Heavenly Father who will never forsake us. Psalm 27:10 assures, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” God promises to be a father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5).
He will comfort us in our affliction (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). We are not alone. The Lord desires to heal our broken hearts and restore hope in the midst of brokenness.
God Can Redeem Our Brokenness
While the pain of parental abuse runs deep, God’s healing love runs deeper still. He can take what was meant for evil and use it for good in our lives (Genesis 50:20). Though abuse often generates feelings of shame and worthlessness, God says we are His beloved children, infinitely precious in His eyes.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).
God specializes in bringing beauty from ashes, transforming even the most broken stories. Many influential Christian leaders, like author Kay Warren and evangelist Beth Moore, are survivors of childhood abuse.
They testify that God restored their self-worth and enabled them to break negative cycles to live fruitful lives. Not only can God heal the wounds of abuse, but He can equip survivors to minister to others from a place of empathy and understanding.
While painful trials linger, we can turn to God for the strength to not just survive but one day thrive.
Finding hope amid suffering is not easy, but we have a compassionate Savior who will walk with us in the darkest valleys. As we turn to Him, He promises to redeem our pain for His glory. Though abuse leaves scars, our lives are not damaged beyond repair. God’s love and purpose for us remain intact.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Abuse leaves wounds no child should have to bear alone. Though we may not fully understand why God allows such evil, we can take comfort knowing He wants to bind up the brokenhearted. By drawing near to Him in our pain through prayer and Scripture, He can bring meaning even from life’s darkest valleys.