Why Does God Allow Suffering?
One of the most challenging questions in life is the question of suffering. Why does suffering exist? Why do we have to go through seasons of trial, disappointment, and grief? People of all faiths and no one grapple with this question. But, for Christians, the problem of suffering is a particular challenge, since we believe in an all-good God. When we worship a good God, we must ask, why does He allow suffering?
When we face suffering first-hand or when we find it overwhelming on a global scale, it can challenge some of our notions of God’s goodness and faithfulness. There may have been a time in your life when you wondered why God allows certain circumstances to happen.
Questions are allowed
As Christians, we can sometimes feel guilty questioning why God allows suffering. We may sometimes think that by questioning, we are in some way doubting God or betraying our lack of trust in Him. However, this could not be further from the truth. Asking questions shows that we have deep faith in God’s goodness and that we really believe that the world is not. WWe are demonstrating an awareness that suffering is not part of God’s plan for our world.
Whatever our personal feelings, this is still one of the biggest questions in life. Countless books, essays, and blog posts have been written about it. But here are three thoughts that will help you reflect further on what suffering means in our daily lives.
1. Suffering was never part of God’s plan
The Book of Genesis begins with the account of the creation of the world. It is a famous account that talks about the creation of the earth and all living things. In the first two chapters of the story there is no mention of illness, suffering or death. Rather, it is a picture of health, peace and abundance in God.
As we read in Genesis 3, suffering entered the world as a result of human choices, the rebellion of God’s creation.
“You will have to sweat your forehead to get enough food until you return to the earth…for you are dust and you will return to dust.” Genesis 3:19
Therefore, we live in a world where suffering exists, in all its various forms. But this was never part of God’s original plan.
The God we serve is a good God and everything He created is good. Therefore, we can rest assured that God intended His creation to be perfectly good and free of suffering.
2. Suffering is something that God has experienced directly
John 19:1-3 says:
“Then Pilate arrested Jesus and scourged him. The soldiers tied a ring of thorns and put it on His head. They dressed Him in a purple robe, and went up to Him many times and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they slapped Him in the face.”
One of the great consolations of the Christian faith is the knowledge that suffering is not something we experience on our own. God is indeed with us through suffering and pain. He does not run away from it nor leave us. Instead, He steps into our suffering and He walks with us through the hurt, every step of the way.
Through Jesus’ example, we know that God has experienced suffering directly. He experienced physical torture, emotional betrayal, and the most horrible death a human can ever experience. He knows what pain feels like. He is no stranger to hurt and pain.
When we experience pain, we may not get a concise answer that explains the pain. But we can know that the Lord is with us in all. The God of the Bible stepped into the mess and fragility of humanity and chose to walk through it all with us. Today, you can know that God understands your pain deeply and that He is with you throughout your personal experience.
3. Suffering has an expiration date
Isaiah 65:17 says:
“See, I will create a new heaven and a new earth. The old things will no longer be remembered, nor thought of.”
The great promise of the Bible is that suffering will end. As we read here in the book of Isaiah, there will come a time when suffering will be no more. There will come a time when we will live forever with God, without crying, without pain, without death. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:17, our suffering on earth is a “temporary pain” that will be balanced by wholeness and permanent healing. This is a great promise!
However, knowing that we are promised a life without suffering does not mean that we should simply wait for Jesus to return. God truly invites us to seek His kingdom right now and pray for a world free of suffering. As Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:13, we must pray to God and ask Him to “deliver us from evil.” God desires to free us from suffering even in this day and age. We can and should pray to God when we are in pain, trusting in His power, and clinging to His promise of an eternity free from all pain.
So what now?
In many ways, suffering is a mystery. While we may grapple with suffering and consider how it exists with the good God we serve, we will never be able to fully understand the challenges we face in the end. . The answer is complex and it requires a lifetime of seeking and seeking God.
However, there are some things we can know for sure. We can know that God is good and that He desires a world without suffering. We can know that God is near, and that He has directly experienced suffering. And we can know that God promises us that one day all suffering will end. This is the good news of Jesus; Not everything goes perfectly when we become Christians but God is with us through every season and He has gone before us.
If you’d like to discover some more resources to help you understand God’s character and nature, download the Glorify app.
Camille Minouflet’s photo on Unsplash
Frank Mckenna’s photo on Unsplash
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