I thought I would kick-start the Q&A section by tackling one of the most commonly asked questions. The following article is adapted from various sources including Bubzbeauty and Christianity Today.
Why does God allow suffering?
Don’t we question Him a lot? From a broken leg to a broken heart to a broken family. Some people think, “Maybe God messed up. Maybe he was too busy dealing with Taiwan’s earthquake that he forgot about the children in Africa.” Some people think, “Maybe God is angry with me for turning my back on him. That’s why He is punishing me.” The Lord doesn’t mess up nor take His anger on the World.
That “why” question is not a new one; it can be dated back since the Old Testament by Job and the writers of the Psalms, and it was especially relevant during the 20th Century, where we witnessed two World Wars, the Holocaust, genocides in the Soviet Union and China, devastating famines in Africa, the killing fields of Cambodia, the emergence of AIDS, the genocide in Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. And the 21st Century didn’t start any better. There was 9/11 and now the Syrian slaughters, and on and on. Why do all of these horrific things happen if there’s a loving and powerful God? Why do bad things happen to good people? I cried out, “It’s not fair God!!!”
There are no words to describe the anguish being felt by those who are suffering today; our heart and prayers have, and will, go out to them. There are so many tragic stories, so much pain. And many people are asking the question, “Why? Why me? Why now? Why did God allow this?”
Maybe you’ve never asked why our world is infected with pain and suffering, because God has been gracious to you, protecting you from harm and unnecessary heartache. But here’s a heads up. Jesus said they are coming. Unlike some other religious leaders who wrote off pain and suffering as mere illusions, Jesus was honest about the inevitability of suffering. In John 16:33 he said, “You will have suffering in this world.” He didn’t say you might—he said it is going to happen.
So why does a loving Father (that’s how Christians describe God) allowed us humans to suffer here on Earth? Does He not care about us anymore after He created us??
To answer these questions let us turn to the Word of God. I remember attending a Go(o)d & Evil talk organised by OCF in 2015. The Pastor mentioned a lot of people assumed either He is not a God of love and is indifferent to human suffering (i.e. He doesn’t care about us), or else He is not a God of power and is therefore helpless to do anything about it. Is God then not good or great, or simply not there?
In Isaiah 55:8 God says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” In 1 Corinthians 13:12 we’re told, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.”
Someday we’ll see with clarity, but for now things are foggy. We can’t understand everything from our finite perspective.
Yet it’s still important to tackle with the question of why God allows suffering in our lives. Even though we can’t understand everything about it, I believe we can understand some things.
Let me give you an analogy:
When a new baby is born, the parents will give consent for their child to receive injections. From the baby’s point of view, he or she feels the pain, thinking “Why is my parents allowing me to suffer?” On the other hand, the parents know this is the best thing to do, to prevent their child from getting sick. Likewise we (humans) are like a child and God is our loving Father.
God says, “Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you and you will give me Glory.” (Psalm 50:15)
All you need is to have Faith in Him because He is Right. Things may seem wrong from our point of view because us humans have our own way of judging but God knows what is Best. Think of Him as a pilot. Sometimes, we don’t know where he is taking us and we may even enter into storms but we have to TRUST HIM because at the end of the day, He is just trying to take us Home. He WILL take us home. Where is home? With Him in Heaven.
“Our comfort is not God’s priority. If it is, how do we explain challenges such as death, disease, slumping accompanies and earthquakes? If God exists to please us, then shouldn’t we always be pleased?”- Max Lucado.
Key points to remember
- All suffering results from the fallen nature of our world.
- Much suffering is a direct result of our own sinfulness. (e.g. the suffering caused by drunkenness, or greed, or lust, or…)
- BUT some are not (see John 9:1-3)
- In the end we don’t know why God allowed evil into the world.
- However, we should thank God that He does something about our suffering, Jesus suffered and died so that we could be forgiven and participate in the ‘new creation’ where there will be no suffering. (*Hallelujah!!!*)
- God uses suffering to discipline and strengthen his children. (Hebrews 12:7-11; Romans 5:3-5) That shows us He ❤ us!
I personally am going through some hard times at the moment but really thank God for His strength and peace as I go through this season in life. Check out “Cease Striving and Know” if you haven’t read my testimony.
It’s my prayer today that you can find peace and comfort in this loving Father who cares for you and He totally understands the troubles/sufferings/loss you’re going through. Because God sacrificed His one and only beloved Son, Jesus Christ for us all. May you find comfort and strength in Him today! =)
Songs that have brought me comfort (Hope they will bring you comfort too! ^^)
“Through It All”
“Jesus, Draws Me Ever Nearer”
“Still, My Soul Be Still”
Thanks to Bubz from Bubzbeauty for attempting to answer this question. Want to know more, check out: http://bubzbeauty.com/ask-bubbi/184-why-does-god-allow-suffer-a-evil-to-happen.html
Chrsitianity Today: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2012/july-online-only/doesgodallowtragedy.html
10 Reasons to Believe In A God Who Allows Suffering https://d3uet6ae1sqvww.cloudfront.net/pdf/ten-reasons/in-a-god-who-allows-suffering.pdf
Don Carson, How Long , O Lord?, 2nd edn, Baker, Grand Rapids, 2006.
John Dickson, If I were God, I’d end all the pain, rev. end, Matthias Media, Sydney 2002.
Paul E Little, How to Give Away Your Faith, rev.edn, IVP, Downers Grove, 2006, chapter 6.
Kel Richards, Defending the Gospel, Matthias Media, Sydney, 2006, chapter 8.