Why Does God Allow Suffering?
In the midst of our suffering, sooner than later, we all begin to question: Where is God? Why is He allowing this to happen? What good can possibly come from this struggle? Whether it is a crippling sickness, the loss of a loved one, or the persecution of believers for their faith, we want to know, “How can a loving Father stand by and do nothing?”
Since you are visiting this page, no doubt these questions have haunted you. The good news is your Savior has shared answers with you in His Word and proclaimed them with His own life. Conveying more love for you than anyone can imagine, your sovereign Father tells you that He has a plan for your life, “a plan for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”1 He reminds you that He is, “merciful and gracious, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” 2 He encourages you that, “even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with you to comfort you.”3 He promises that His Spirit dwells in you and is with you forever.4 In this midst of a fallen and broken world, He wants you to know He is in control and that He is in this with you.
But to continue to trust Him, it is important for you to understand some of the reasons “WHY” He allows suffering, His purpose in the process, and how to draw on His provision. The scriptures are full of illustrations of people just like you who learned ho wot lean in God and embrace His plans and provisions. The book of Job reveals suffering resulting from spiritual warfare as Job learned to trust God’s character and purposes even when he did not understand the circumstances.5 Joseph’s suffering was part of God’s plan to rescue His people, Israel, and to work Joseph’s circumstances together for God’s glory and his good.6 Jesus, the sinless Son of God, suffered temptation, shame, persecution, and death to destroy the power of sin and to redeem you. 7 Jesus Christ is sympathetic to our suffering. Because of His life on earth, He Himself suffered in every way in order to now offer His mercy and grace as He meets us in our suffering. 8 Our Savior offers this mercy and grace because of His life of suffering, and He is now able to enter our suffering with us. His love for you is to the uttermost, and His provision is sufficient in our deepest times of need. Because our Lord is Sovereign, we can trust that He is working all of our circumstances toward His purposes. Our suffering will in fact allow us to see Him in a light that may have been unknown to us previously.
Suffering – A Consequence of Sin in the World
Suffering is not part of God’s original creation and plan. It is a product of the rebellion and fall of both angels and human beings. The scriptures reveal several sources of suffering. It can result from a spiritual attack by our enemy, satan. 9 We often experience it because we live in a fallen world. 10 Sometimes, it is the consequence of our own person choices 11 which can also result in God’s loving discipline. 12
In this suffering, as we trust Christ, He promises to take what the enemy means for evil in our lives and use it for His glory and our good.13 Through Job’s suffering, satan was rebuked, and Job was restored. Through Joseph’s slavery and imprisonment, the nation of Israel was saved, and Joseph was elevated. Through Jesus’s beatings and crucifixion, we have been redeemed and Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father.
Suffering – A Means of Sanctification
Although suffering is not God’s desire for humanity, He uses it in one or more of the following ways: to examine our thoughts and actions, to bring us to the end of our futile struggles, and to move us to look to God. As we do, He uses our trials to produce Godly character14and conform us to the image of His Son.15; Through difficulty, He focuses our attention on His eternal promises and shines light on the sufficiency of Christ.16 As our Father comforts us, He quips us to comfort others.17 As we depend on Christ, our struggles produce endurance18 and to equip us to share the Gospel of Christ.19
Christ’s goal in all kinds of suffering is our growth – our maturity!20 The comforting truth is He does not leave us on our own but empowers us through His Spirit.21 We are able to rejoice because we know our suffering leads to endurance and that endurance leads to a spiritual maturity in Christ. This maturity of faith leads to hope – a hope that does not disappoint because there is a time ahead where there is no more suffering. That time is when we are face to face with our Lord Jesus Christ.22 Ultimately, our suffering gives the believer an opportunity to proclaim to the watching world that Christ is supreme, better than, that which we have lost, whatever that may be.
There is so much more that could be shared about this challenging issue of suffering. One of God’s mercies to the believer is the gift of community. When walking through seasons of suffering it is important to lean on those in your life who can be trusted to share the burden you are carrying. As a church we also offer support through D-Groups Leaders, Care Team Pastors, and Elders. Additionally, there are resources through local counseling services which are listed below. Finally, we recommend sever articles and books for your study.
- Fellowship Care Team – (501) 224-7171
- The Care Team is an excellent first step in determining appropriate next steps in dealing with suffering.
- They provide biblical counseling services.
- They also conduct classes on Wednesday nights on many of our campuses around topics like addiction recovery, grief, etc.
- Other Christian Counseling resources available include:
- Compass Counseling
- Napa Valley Counseling
- Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Paul Tripp
- Why Bad Things Happen to Good People by Warrant Wiersbe
- Where is God When it Hurts by Philip Yancey
- A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss by Jerry Sittser
- Joni Eareckson Tada, https://vimeo.com/735497503
FOOTNOTES: 1 Jeremiah 29:11; 2 Exodus 34:6-7; 3 Psalm 23:4; 4 John 14:16-17; 5 Job 13:15; 6 Genesis 50:19-20; 7 1 Peter 2:19-25; 8 Hebrews 4:15-16; 9 1 Peter 5:8; 10 Romans 5:12-14; 11 Galatians 6:8; 12 Revelation 3:19; 13 Genesis 50:20; 14 Romans 5:3-5; 15 2 Corinthians 12:9; 16 2 Corinthians 12:9; 17 2 Corinthians 1:4; 18 1 Peter 4:12-13; 19 Acts 4:1-4; 20 James 1:2-4; 21 Romans 8:2-6; 22 Romans 5:3-5