If there is a good God in the universe, then why do innocent children have to suffer at the hands of bad people? This is a good question. After all, what have little children done to deserve punishment or suffering? Nothing. Yet, they suffer. If God is all-loving and all-powerful, why doesn't He stop this injustice from happening?
It is true that God is good. His nature is holy, and He is loving and patient. But, God is also just and wise. He created Adam and Eve and put them into the Garden of Eden and gave them dominion over the world. This dominion was not merely a functional one. It was also representational. In other words, Adam was the Federal Head over mankind. This means that Adam represented all of mankind.1 When he fell into sin, the Bible teaches that we fell with him (Rom. 5:12-21).
Another way of looking at it is that Adam contained all of us in representative form, in his life and in His seed. When he fell, we inherited not only a sinful nature from Adam by simply being born, but we also inherited a world affected by sin as well. Furthermore, since we are made in the image of God, and we are not robots without free will, God has given to us the stature and responsibility of managing what has been given to us. Therefore, God has given us a world that was good to begin with, but fell because of Adam. In this world, because we are like God in that we have responsibility and free will, we live with the consequences of our actions. Unfortunately, the consequences of sin is that sometimes the innocent suffer.
However, technically speaking, not even the children are innocent. The Bible says that all people are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3). Like it or not, the sin of Adam is imputed, or reckoned to each individual that Adam represented the same way that the righteousness of Jesus is imputed, or reckoned to each individual that He represented. If someone wants to say that it is unfair for Adam to represent us in the Fall, then they must also conclude that it is unfair for Jesus to represent us on the cross. This latter case would mean that we would not have salvation. This is why God set up the idea of representation so that we could be saved. The seemingly unfortunate consequence of this is that it means we also must continue to suffer the effects of the failure that was begun by Adam.
Therefore, though God can intervene and stop people from suffering, and He probably does already without our knowing it, there are still those who will suffer in this world due to the effects of sin in people and on creation.
- 1. Federal headship not only means that Adam represented us in the fall, but also that Jesus represented us on the cross. In Adam, all die. In Christ, all are made alive (1 Cor. 15:22).