If God is good, why does it feel like everything is falling apart?… Why did He let this thing happen to me?… The hardships are just too much, I cannot comprehend; So why does God allow suffering to happen to me?
Have you ever asked yourself those questions? Life was going so well until one day everything just took a downturn. You lost your job, then got evicted and declared homeless. The bills now pile up that you can’t make ends meet. Your children misbehave and cause you so much grief. You receive news that your loved one has passed away. You pray and the prayers seem to go unanswered. You get a call from the doctors and unfortunately it’s bad news.
Talking about more hardships, look at what’s happening in the world; the cost of living crisis is affecting people’s lives. Natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes and tornados, have been destroying people’s homes and causing death.
Suffering hurts, it is painful and hard to bear. But in all these things, God has shown us in His Word that there is a purpose in every adversity that we go through in life.
To understand why God lets such miseries occur in our lives, we first need to understand where suffering came from.
The Origin of Suffering
The question, ‘why is there suffering in the world?’ is worth asking, so that we better understand suffering in its full context. Suffering came into the world because of sin. The disobedience that happened in the Garden of Eden brought forth curses for the serpent, Eve and finally Adam. (Genesis 3, NASB2020).
‘Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned’ (Romans 5:12, NKJV). As a result, all born in Adam are born sinners, who like their parent, must experience suffering.
Thus, no one is immune from suffering. We will all suffer at some point in our lives. This is one of the things that our Lord Jesus Christ told us in John 16:33 (NKJV), ‘“…In the world you will have tribulation…”’ Please note that He said you will. He didn’t say maybe you will, but rather you will.
Now that we’ve seen where suffering comes from, let’s turn to the scriptures to dive deep into the reasons why God allows suffering.’
Why does God allow Suffering and Pain?
- Adversities bring about good
- God reveals His attributes in our suffering
- Afflictions keep us humble
- Trials come to test our faith
- Suffering produces repentance
- Tribulations enable us to comfort others
- Afflictions produce righteousness
- Trials develop perseverance
Adversities bring about good
‘“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”’ (Genesis 50:20, ESV).
This was Joseph talking to his brothers, years after they threw him into a pit because they didn’t like the dreams that he had (Genesis 37, ESV). Despite the misery that Joseph experienced, God raised him to be the governor of Egypt. God’s intention was to save His people from the famine that was all over the land, hence He used Joseph to deliver His people.
In our afflictions, we may never know what God is planning, but beloved, know that God is working it all out for good. ‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.’ (Romans 8:28, NKJV). It’s all things, and all things include our sufferings.
God reveals His attributes in our suffering
When we go through suffering, we experience the power of God more than ever before. We read the Bible and see that God says He is powerful, but to experience that power, our belief in God increases! Our worship for Him goes up another level. God is revealing Himself to us.
‘My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.’
(James 5:10-11, NKJV).
Job went through a lot in His life but here we see that God planned to show us that He is full of compassion and mercy.
Another significant story is about the man who was born blind: ‘Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”’ (John 9:1-3, NKJV).
In this passage we see that it was predestined that this man should be born blind, in order for God’s works to be manifested in him. The end result was a miraculous healing performed by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Afflictions keep us humble
The Apostle Paul talks about his experience of the affliction he faced;
‘And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.’
(2 Corinthians 12:7, NKJV)
God loves us so much that He works in us to sanctify us. He hates pride we are told in Proverbs 8:13 (NKJV). To humble us or to keep us humble, God allows afflictions to come upon us, in order to prevent us from falling into pride.
This reminds me of the verse that says, ‘To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy’ (Jude 1:24, NIV), He deserves all the glory, even amidst our afflictions!
Trials come to test our faith
‘By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,’
(Hebrews 11:17, NIV).
The story of Abraham offering up his only son as a sacrifice to God, blows me away. Imagine God giving you a child after you’ve prayed long and hard for one, and then in the end God tells you to sacrifice your beloved child to Him!? How would you take it?
What we see in this story is that God was testing Abraham’s faith, and Abraham passed the test! An alternative sacrifice was provided instead by God Himself.
In the end, the scriptures say, ‘He said, “Do not reach out your hand against the boy, and do not do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”’ (Genesis 22:12, NASB2020).
Suffering produces repentance
‘If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send a plague among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’
(2 Chronicles 7:13-14, NASB2020)
‘In the Bible, the word repent means “to change one’s mind.”’(Got Questions Ministries, 2022) If the reason for our suffering is our sin, let’s learn from the above verse and repent from our sins. Our loving God is inviting us to repent.
Let us remember that the ultimate suffering will be for all eternity. Thus, the ultimate repentance is to repent of one’s sin of not believing in Christ and living in ways contrary to God’s ways.
Tribulations enable us to comfort others
Have you been there when something terrible happened in your life, you learned from your experience, then sooner or later discovered that someone else is going through the exact or similar thing that you went through?
Because we’ve gone through that issue, we were then able to console the other person. This then created a ripple effect where the other person then comforted another person and this consolation later went around to other people.
This passage explains it perfectly and concisely that God comforts us so that we can comfort others:
‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.’
(2 Corinthians 1: 3-4, ESV)
Afflictions produce righteousness
How beautiful is this verse that states, ‘For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.’ (Hebrews 12:11, ESV).
When we go through afflictions, it is indeed painful. It hurts us so much, deep within our hearts. But beloved, it is well with our souls. God is building us up. He is sanctifying us.
Hebrews 12: 3-11 (ESV) talks about God disciplining us. It describes a father and son relationship. Indeed, for those of us who have children, we discipline them so that they grow up to be great kids. If we don’t discipline our children, they become unruly.
Therefore when God is chastening us, it is for our own good. He is building us up spiritually. He is molding us into what He wants us to be.
Trials develop perseverance
‘…but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance’ (Romans 5:3, NKJV).
To persevere is to endure, to have patience. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, NKJV). If we have the Spirit in us, then this virtue should be evident in us. God will allow trials to come so that they develop our patience, the ability to endure all hardships, however big or small.
Therefore my beloved, in every trials and tribulations that we go through in life, we should remember this verse that states, ‘My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.’ (James 1: 2-4, NKJV).
To recap, we have seen that suffering came into the world because of the disobedience in the garden of Eden. In all of the calamities we face in life, we should remember that God allows suffering because it:
- Brings about good;
- Reveals God’s attributes.
- Keeps us humble;
- Tests our faith;
- Produces repentance;
- Enables us to comfort others;
- Produces righteousness;
- And finally, it develops perseverance.
Let’s be encouraged that even though ‘…by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.’ (Romans 5: 19, NKJV). This Man’s obedience involved Him suffering to a great extent, way beyond our imagination. He went through it all, obeying our Father in heaven. The Man was;
‘…despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
(Isaiah 53: 3a, NKJV)
This Man is THE greatest of all! He is our Lord Jesus Christ, who conquered death. Satan and his minions have no power over Him. So to get through any suffering that we face in life, we should look to the One who overcame it all. He went through it all because He knew the end would be good.
As a takeaway, even though God allows suffering, He has promised us that He:
‘“… will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”’
(Revelation 21: 4, NKJV)
This is our hope dear loved ones. This world is not our home. We have a better place that we are going to where there will be no more suffering. Let’s place our hope in Jesus Christ.
Be blessed sisters. God willing, see you in the next article!
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Recommended Resources on Suffering
1. Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, by John Piper and Justin Taylor
2. Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God’s Purpose and Provision in Suffering by Sharilynn Dunn, Kelly Ryan Dolan, et al.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Got Questions Ministries. (2022). What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation? [Online]. Available at: https://www.gotquestions.org/
repentance.html (Accessed: 19 November 2022)