Why Does God Allow Suffering?
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
This is not an exhaustive treatment of a very weighty subject, but merely some thoughts for your consideration.
1. God will sometimes allow suffering and sickness to get our attention!
For instance, we may be rebelling against Him, and He wants it to stop. This was the case with the reluctant prophet Jonah. Psalm 119:67 says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word”. So the Lord may allow a hard situation to wake us up to our real need— even something as tragic as the death of a child.
One person whose child died wrote me saying,
A person expects to lose a parent, maybe even a brother, sister, aunt, or uncle; but never a child. My son would have been 16 years old this year. It has been 15 years since his death. He was the person who brought me to the Lord. Because of his death I received my salvation. The comfort I found when I fell into God’s hands . . . God knows my pain; He lost a son too!God used unimaginable tragedy to bring this person to the Lord. Maybe something radical or tragic has happened to you lately: the death of a loved one, bad news from a doctor, a close brush with death. Or maybe something else has gotten your attention, and you hurt! Perhaps your marriage failed, your parents divorced, you got fired, your girlfriend or boyfriend dumped you.
Fifteen years later . . . I still cry at Christmas; that’s when I remember his life and my loss. I still cry at Easter; that’s when I am assured I will see him again. I know I will never get over it because I don’t want to get over it. The intensity is less; but, like the joy of life takes the pain of birth away, I have found salvation through God’s Son because of the loss of mine!
It’s possible that the Lord is trying to get your attention in all of this hardship. Remember that God is in control of all circumstances that surround the believer. As shown in the story of Job, the devil can do nothing in the life of the believer without express permission on the part of God.
But why would God give Satan that permission? Because Satan’s attacks will show what you are made of. It will separate the real from the false, the wheat from the tares. When attacked, a real believer will turn to God. A nonbeliever will turn against Him.
People react in different ways to crisis. It seems you either turn to the Lord, or against Him. And the result is you either get better or bitter. Suffering does not create character; it reveals it.
2. Suffering helps us grow spiritually and makes us stronger in the faith.
It takes our faith from the realm of theory to reality, so we can start living out our faith in the real world.
A. B. Simpson said, “Temptation exercises our faith and teaches us to pray. It is like military drill and a taste of battle to the young soldier. It puts us under fire and compels us to exercise our weapons and prove their potency. It shows us the recourse of Christ and the preciousness of the promises of God. Every victory gives us new confidence in our victorious leader and new courage for the next onslaught of the foe.”
Until then, we must depend on and trust God. That’s what Job did when his whole world fell apart. He said, “Praise the name of the Lord!” He did not say “I understand it,” but simply, “Lord, I trust You!”
3. Suffering can be used to prepare us for a special task.
This was the case with Joseph. His adversity prepared him for the task at hand. After being abandoned by his brothers and cut off from his people, he was still able to say, “God did it!” Not merely “God allowed it,” but “God did it.” But why did God do it? As Joseph said, “To save many people alive!”
You need to know that the experiences of your life can and will be used by God to help others. And when we have suffered, we can offer a special measure of comfort to someone else who is suffering.
Perhaps someone you know just found out they have cancer, and you are a cancer survivor; you can comfort them. Someone’s child may just have died, and they feel as though they cannot go on another minute, much less a lifetime—if you have been down that road, you can comfort them like no one else.
“(He) who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with His comfort through Christ.
Perhaps the hardships of today are preparing you for great opportunities tomorrow. Warren Wiersbe quotes a professor of history who said, “If Columbus had turned back, nobody would have blamed him—but nobody would have remembered him either.” Wiersbe concludes, “If you want to be memorable, sometimes you have to be miserable.”
God will give you what you need, when you need it. Not before, never after, but when you need it. Corrie ten Boom used to tell a story:
When I was a little girl, I went to my father and said, “Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.”We may not be called to be martyrs, but we will all suffer in life. And God will give you the strength you need—just in time.
“Tell me,” said Father, “When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?”
“No, Daddy. You give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.”
“That is right,” Father said, “And so it is with God’s strength. Our father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need—just in time.”
Finally, let me share a great passage with you: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). This does not say that suffering is good—suffering and pain are bad. They are part of living in a fallen world, which is not what God originally intended. But good can come as a result of our suffering. God can comfort us in times of suffering because He is good.
Before we accuse God unjustly, remember that it was unjust for Jesus to die for sins He did not commit. But form that injustice, God brought about the greatest good. As Philippians 2:5-11 states,
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Sometimes suffering comes as a result of evil people doing evil things. Some say, “Why does God allow this? He should judge them.” Know that the time is coming when God will judge every person and every sin that has not been forgiven through the sacrifice of Christ.
Behold me, my beloved Jesus, weighed down under the burden of my trials and sufferings, I cast myself at Your feet, that You may renew my strength and my courage, while I rest here in Your Presence. Permit me to lay down my cross in Your Sacred Heart, for only Your infinite goodness can sustain me; only Your love can help me bear my cross; only Your powerful hand can lighten its weight. O Divine King, Jesus, whose heart is so compassionate to the afflicted, I wish to live in You; suffer and die in You. During my life be to me my model and my support; At the hour of my death, be my hope and my refuge. Amen.In Jesus,
Click HERE to find out more about how to have a personal
relationship with Jesus Christ.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
God’s first priority is not our happiness or comfort, but our salvation and sanctification.