10 Reasons Why God Allows Suffering
A man stepped off the curb without looking and was struck by a passing car. Your child decided to experiment with a gay lifestyle. The doctor said, “We think your baby will be born with birth defects.” A man decides to leave his wife and two children for another woman. A man loses his job because he had one bad year in a bad market. A man deep in debt learns his binge spending is linked to the bipolar disorder with which he must learn to cope. A wife gets Alzheimer’s disease.
For most of us, we can accept the suffering that is our own fault. And a lot of suffering is of our own making – we do something wrong, we make an error in judgment, we sin. But a lot of suffering seems random, meaningless, and undeserved. We cannot help but wonder, “What did I do to deserve this? If God loves me, why did he let this happen? Am I being punished?”
David Hume framed the problem when he wrote, “Epicurus’s old questions are yet unanswered. Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”
More simply: Does he know? Does he care? Can he do anything about it?
We can come up with a lot of high-sounding answers, or we can just let God tell us in his own words. The Bible is the perfect pain management manual for Christians. Here are 10 reasons why God allows suffering. This list is by no means exhaustive – there are many other reasons, some known and some unknowable (e.g. to test us, discipline us, and sanctify us).
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: so that we can comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received.
- 2 Corinthians 1:6: so that we may learn patience and endurance.
- 2 Corinthians 1:8-9: so that we will not rely on ourselves but on God.
- 2 Corinthians 1:11, 1 Peter 1:6-7: so that God may receive praise and thanks.
- Luke 22:31-32: so that we can strengthen our brothers.
- John 9:1-3: so that the works of God may be displayed.
- Deuteronomy 9:4-5: so that evil may be punished.
- Romans 5:3-5: so that our character may be developed.
- Romans 8:20-21: so that we may be delivered from bondage to decay and become children of God.
- Psalm 119:67, 71, 75, Hebrews 5:8: so that we can learn obedience.
Be encouraged, and encourage your men. Tell them, “Nothing that happens to you by human will can happen apart from God’s will. He has purposes for you that are far greater than your present circumstances. Our sufferings are mere pinpricks compared to what comes next. In fact, the Bible says, ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)”
Let us say this together, “Because I believe God has a purpose for every suffering I can handle it – even if I don’t understand what that purpose is.”
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,