I got this really nice article while browsing the web. It talks about suffering and its relationship with God’s work. Are you suffering from something right now? Are you asking God why are you in that burden? This article perhaps can answer this question.
Why Does God Allow Suffering?
Author: Jack Wellman
Why does God allow suffering that He is fully capable to stopping? This question has not only challenged Christians, but anyone. To witness histories or current atrocities and worldwide suffering on such catastrophic levels, can be a major stumbling block even for believers in Christ, not to mention atheists or agnostics. If God is “supposed to be an all-powerful and all-loving God, then why doesn’t He stop it? Is He powerless, is He tired, is He even there…or maybe He’s asleep.”
Being a Christian is no insurance against cancer, disease, disability, and an unexpected death. In fact, Jesus clearly stated that we will suffer. I have searched many theologians, pastors, and books, and have finally discovered this: God’s ways are past our finding out and beyond human comprehension. No human can ever wrap their mind around What and Who God is. that is precisely what makes Him God. There is infinity in Him. We are simply finite. The answers to our questions may not be answered until Christ returns for us, or in the way we expect, or what seems best to us.
It is inferred that God knew we would encounter great trials and tribulations in this life, since He knows the future and is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent. He must have known that the fall of man would produce a fallen world. But what if life were perfect, with no problems at all for anybody? Human nature being what it is may think “who need’s God?”. Everyone everywhere would have had all of their needs met. No one would be in need of anything. Trials can sometimes drive people to their knees and to the acknowledgement of their need for God. There are storms of correction and there are storms of perfection. Either way, God hears your cries, knows your sorrows (Ex. 3:7) and listens to your groans (Ex. 6:5).
Jesus was called a Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief in every way (Ish. 53.3). Jesus certainly groaned, He wept, and He was sorrowful when He saw suffering. Even the earth groans and travails earnestly in a state of decay while awaiting it’s own redemption, which will come with the manifestation (or appearance) of the sons of God [that would be us] (Rom. 8:22-23).In several continents, like India, Africa, and others, where multiple thousands of innocent children have died, why didn’t God intervene? God could intervene first and prevent it but He chooses not too.
Man was the one who decided that he would make his own choices in the Garden of Eden and even today in most of the world’s society. But for the sake of argument, let’s say God did prevent it. Great, but then, over in Asia, there is a Communist regime that choose guns over grain. Should He not address this next? Then there are those rich people, then those people, ……just fill in the blanks. Knowing human nature as it is, there will always be one more issue that needs to be resolved and as a result, freedom of choice or free-will would be lost. If we are given no choice, humans will rebel as evidenced by Democracy sweeping over parts of the world. If we have no free-will, we would simply be robots programmed to obey. Like Plavlov’s Dogs, conditionally trained to respond when the bell rang for food.It is a human tendency to want to be free, free to make decisions and to be free, moral agents. But it comes at an enormous cost…consequences.
There is both good and evil in the world. People will make both good and bad decisions. Human history has shown where freedom of choice is missing, rebellion is likely. Maybe not at first….those people over there needed to be punished. But if the correction starts hitting closer to home, then we take it as a personal affront to our right of freedom. You can not have it both ways. Interfere where others are concerned, but don’t mess with my personal freedom to make choices. I am a father and grandfather, and now that most of my children have grown and gone (save one), I can no longer influence or correct them. They are now legal adults.
When a child is in infancy, a parent is akin to being their like a god (what I mean is that they are fully dependent upon them for even their life). Babies depend on them for survival, clothing, shelter, food…life. Without parental care, the child would die. My wife and I made most of the choices for our young children, but as they got older, they had more personal freedoms. Having complete and total control would stifle their decision making and damage their self-esteem in the late teen years. And by allowing their adult children to make their own decisions, and yes, make mistakes too, they will feel free to seek godly counsel from their parents who will not give them a lecture or “I told you so”. That old “safe zone” will feel warm and comfortable, not like feeling “brow beaten” with advice crammed down their throat. The result of that might be being ex-communicated from them.
In my counseling of families as a Case Manager for the SRS, I discovered that there are really 3 types of parents. The drill sergeant, “my way or the highway”, the search and rescue pilot, “quick, grab the rope, I’m here to save you since you can not”, and the consultant, “Wow, you really are having a problem, good luck with it, let me know what I can do for you…I have been in a similar position before”. I prefer the consultant approach, giving limited choices, and allowing them to make some decisions for themselves. Yes, I saw them make a lot of mistakes and they’re still making them, but I have realized that I must resist the urge to interfere or intervene. If I interfere, I thwart their growth or worse, have them cut off their relationship with me. If it is their idea to ask for help, they are more likely to respond to that advice. God is in that position over mankind and mankind responds like children sometimes do and make a wrong choice, but God will not force us into Heaven against our will.
Throughout most of human history, families have leaned toward large families due to the high mortality rate. For example, many families in the 18th and 19th centuries knew in advance that some of their children would be stillborn, die in infancy or from childhood diseases, but they had them anyway. I too knew in advance that when my wife and I considered having children that they would come into a world with pain, suffering, shortages in food, water, fuel, etc, not at all close to perfect. We had them anyway. They were worth the risk. And what joy we have now. But no one has suffered like the Messiah. The most unjust, unusually cruel, humiliating, brutal and torturous death of Jesus Christ was the most unfair thing of all. He didn’t do anything worthy of death. He was (and is) perfect. Those stripes should have been ours. Why did God allow such terrible suffering to His Son? To pay a penalty that we could never pay for ourselves…that of atoning for our sins and enabling us to have a relationship with God that sin had heretofore made impossible. He is far too Holy for a sinner to approach Him.
According to the majority of ancient Historians, no human ever suffered to the extent that Jesus Christ did. His death was the greatest travesty of justice that has ever or ever will occur in history. Because God so loved us, He even sacrificed His One and Only Son, so that we could have relationship with Him, forever (John 3:16-18). That was not fair to Jesus, or to us since we deserved eternal punishment, but that is exactly why the Father allowed His Son to suffer and die. Just how excruciating was His death? Read Isaiah 52: 10-15 and 53: 1-12.
By the way, mankind is not off the hook; we should ask ourselves why we allowing suffering? Man has the capacity and means to alleviate much of it. For instance, there is sufficient wealth in the world to almost wipe out hunger. We can we fly to moon but many are homeless, we can split an atom but we can’t part with our money, we can cure cancer but not poverty. It is interesting to note that there is sufficient global wealth, that if it were properly distributed, every family would make about 42 thousand dollars a year (Worldwide GNP 2006)!
Another thing to consider is that trials purify our faith (I Pet. 1:7), sorrow keeps us in a humble attitude (II Cor. 7:10), allow us to fellowship with Jesus (Philp. 3:10), be partakers of His sufferings (I Pet. 4:13), and partakers of His reign (II Tim. 2:12). So our suffering is nothing compared to what Jesus endured, but it is to be revealed in us in glory and honor at His appearance (I Pet. 1:7, Rom 8:18). “Our light affliction is but for a moment, works (this is a verb, an action) in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (II Cor. 4:17). And compared with the glory we’ll encounter in Heaven, we’ll look back on our problems and think, why did I worry so much (Rom 8:18)? In II Corinthians, 1:3-7, God answers (through Paul) at least in part, as to why He allows suffering, even with Christians.
The Good News Bible explains part of that purpose, “Let us give thanks to ….the God from whom all help comes! He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles (here is one reason), using the same kind of help that we ourselves have received from God. Just as we have a share in Christ’s many sufferings (yet another purpose), so also through Christ we share in God’s great help. If we suffer, it is for your help and salvation; if we are helped, then you too are helped and given the strength to endure with patience (another reason) the same sufferings that we also endure. So our hope in you is never shaken; we know that just as you share in our sufferings, you also share in the help we receive (another reason, this one helps the church). Even Jesus momentarily felt forsaken saying “My God, My God, why have You abandon me?(Good News Mark 15:34)”.
Jeremiah, the so called “the weeping prophet”, was one of several prophets and thousands of saints who wanted to just give up and die. They couldn’t take it anymore, but they and you are sharing in the sufferings of Jesus, church members, Ezekiel, and a host of others. Suffering and misery love company, and if you have suffered or currently are suffering (and what Christian hasn’t), you are in most excellent company. And it creates an utter dependence upon God, which is what He wants us to do.It is not written anywhere that life is fair, including the Bible. Christians seem to get what the un-saved deserve and the sinner receives what the saints seem due (Eccl. 8:14).
Regardless of which injustices and unfairness occurs, it’s beyond our ability to understand why some suffer un-rightly while others who do wicked prosper. Even though this question has been examined over hundreds of years, mankind just can’t comprehend what God is doing behind the scenes (Eccl. 8:17). Even if an old, wise and experienced theologian claims to know full well the reasons why people suffer, don’t believe it (Eccl. 3:17). We can’t even explain al l of our miseries or even know the exact day that we’ll die (Eccl. 8:6-8). However, the children of God can depend on and have faith in His promise that no harm will come to us (Eccl. 8:5).
I will not claim that this article explains it all…I would be lying if I did. For the children of God, this will all make perfect sense someday, but today it remains hidden. Even so, we can rest assured that the reason will be made clear and that all things will work out for our best (Rom. 8:28). I have ask myself this question, since I suffer physical ailments (fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, severe allergy and migrane headaches, etc.) even though I’ve been born again and I attend church regularly, faithfully tithe, help the poor, etc., But those are just a pile of filthy rags (works). My own works can never guarantee that I won’t suffer.
There is something bigger going on here that I can not yet see. I must simply be still and know that He is God, He is in charge and He has a plan that is exactly the best for me (Psl. 46.10). When I was young and got sick, I remember taking caster oil and it going down very hard. Yuck, it was terrible…and I had no clue about how this was supposed to help, but help it did. As hard as things are to swallow sometimes, I only later realized that it was the best thing for me. I must learn to think of that Great Day, when this old tent (tabernacle) will be thrown off for an eternal body…my mortality will be swallowed up by the Spirit’s quickening and immortality (II Cor 5:2).
Enduring is made more bearable when you know that you suffer with Jesus or another Christian friend…someone who knows what you are going through and understands. This helps you cope with it better. And God certainly gives us the strength and courage we need to go through things, since He declares He will be an ever-present help when we are in trouble (Pslm. 46:1). It is not all your responsibility…It is your response to His ability.?
Every good father corrects his children because he loves them and wants what is best for them. God the Father corrects and chastises every child He loves. Don’t take it too personal because trials may be storms of correction or storms of perfection, as the late Adrian Rogers put it so well. As for me, I’ve got much dross to burn off, but He is in the refining business anyway. For born-again Christians, suffering is actually a good thing and a God-thing. He is not causing it, but allowing it. This is a fallen world. But the Father desires to have relationship with you and to give you the ability to carry on. In fact, God so passionately desires to give you eternal life, that He allowed His Son to endure the greatest suffering that any human has ever experienced. That was the most unfair thing that has ever happened! Jesus horrible death paid our debt so that we could have joy in the fellowship with the Most High forever. If you are not already born again, you can become a child of God right now & any present day suffering can be turned into eternal joy someday.
HOW TO RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE
I Admit – that I am a sinner and in need of a Savior,
I Abandon – self-effort & realize I can not be saved by my works or efforts,
I Accept freely Christ’s payment for my sins, required of the Father,
I Acknowledge Jesus Christ as my personal lord and Savior.
About the Author:
I am a Christian author of 2 books, “Do Babies Go To Heaven?”, & “Blind Chance or Intelligent Design?, Empirical Methodologies & the Bible” and freelance Christian Apologetics writer. Am also a father & grandfather (x3) with a BA in history, with degrees in Education & minor in Theology.