Why Does God Allow Suffering?
Frequently, when bad or horrible things happen, people ask many questions. These questions are often very similar in nature; but they look at the issue from different perspectives. Here are some examples:
- Why does God allow so much suffering in the world?
- If God is a God of love, why does He allow any kind of suffering?
- Why didn’t God prevent it or stop it?
- Where was God when this was happening to me?
Like everyone else, I have asked these questions.
- Why did God allow me to become disabled? My disability was preventable. The Ontario government commissioned a study about Chemical Sensitivity, two years before I became disabled. If the Ontario government had acted on the recommendations of that study, I probably would never have become disabled.
- Why does God allow me to have setbacks to my health? I have gone from being completely bedridden to being able to walk three miles. Then, after another major chemical exposure, within a couple of weeks, it once again becomes a real struggle to walk even 10 feet inside my house. It might take a few years to recover from the exposure, and get back to being able to walk a mile or so again. Then, I’ll have another major chemical exposure, and all my recovery is erased yet again. This very disheartening cycle has been my story for over 30 years.
- So why would God allow this? Many of my setbacks have been as a result of the callous attitudes of other people. So why wouldn’t God protect me? Where was God when this was happening to me?
In earnest, tearful prayer, I brought my confusion, my hurts and my questions to God. I asked God these questions. Here is what God taught me:
Why does God allow so much human suffering, such as disease, famines and wars?
God is not the one to blame. Satan is the one who has the world in his grip and his power. 1 John 5:19b says: “...the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” My understanding of this verse is that the world is nestled in the arms of the evil one – similar to that of a babe in the arms of its mother.
Suffering happens in this world, because the world is under Satan’s power and influence. Satan is out to destroy God’s handiwork. Satan often works through our sinful human nature to increase human suffering.
God has given mankind a free will and we can choose to turn to God or to turn away from God. We can chose to love God, hate God or be indifferent to Him. We can choose to do good deeds or we can choose to do evil deeds. Much human suffering is as a result of people choosing to turn away from God and choosing to do evil deeds. Often, the one who is suffering is suffering because of the direct or indirect consequences of the sins of others, such as greed and love of power.
God does not overrule the free will of mankind, and the choices we make. God does not force us to choose His way. However, when we do turn to God in our suffering, in genuine sincerity, and we seek His help, He will help us, comfort us and encourage us.
Where was God when this was happening to me?
God was in the same place, as when He watched His Son be crucified.
Why did God not intervene and prevent it or stop it?
God did not intervene and stop His Son from being crucified, or the purpose of His Son’s crucifixion would have been thwarted. God allowed Jesus’ suffering, so that others could be helped – Jesus was crucified for our eternal salvation.
Likewise, God sometimes allows our sufferings, so others can be helped. God wants us, first of all, to go to Him in our sufferings, and receive His comforts, and encouragements. Then, we are to take the comforts and encouragements that God gives us and share them with others who are suffering. God wants us to be His ambassadors, to help bring His comfort and encouragement to a suffering world.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says: “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 will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
Then, there are also some kinds of sufferings that we will never understand while we are here on earth. I believe that one day, when we are at home with the Lord, He will show us the reason why. In the meantime, I believe God wants us to just trust in His nature and character.
Psalm 145:17 says: “The LORD is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.”
I don’t understand it; but I know it is true.