Why does all-loving and all-powerful God allows pain and suffering?
How could a good God allow so much evil?
Why doesn’t He do something about it?
Couldn’t God have created a world without evil?
Every day, we are bombarded with news of wars, natural disasters, diseases, and the list goes on and on. Not only does the suffering on a global scale effect, but we have also all encountered suffering one way or another. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, we face illness, financial pressure, depression, or the death of a loved one. Some of us may even have shut the door on God because of what happens to us. Yet, if God existed, He surely would not have let terrible things happen.
Suffering is a part of life. It is not something to be avoided. Unfortunately, Christians have a misconception that it is not a part of the spiritual life. cross to satisfy the demands of a just God. Recognizing the role of suffering in our relationship with Christ helps us see through this misconception.
Suffering proves the authenticity of one’s faith and produces righteousness in the true believer. Job was a wealthy man with great possessions, loved by his family and friends who followed God’s instructions faithfully; God singled out Job as someone who “is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8. Job endured 20 years of misfortune, all of which he is depicted as being innocent of. He had no knowledge of the conversation God and Satan had about him. The story of Job highlights that not all suffering is a punishment of sin; God uses Job as a soldier in His Army against Satan. Job’s suffering glorified God and reveals Job’s faith is authentic. See more about the story of Job and his role in suffering https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/five-truths-for-sufferers-from-the-book-of-job/
If someone told Job, in the lowest point of the crisis, The platitude “Everything happens for a reason” it would have been viewed as empty condolence to a devastating heart. The platitude does not consider how difficult it is to accept that God uses everything, primarily pain, and suffering that happens for His greater glory. The hope of a happy ending may seem crass. It can be easy to feel cynical about people’s attempts to help or rationalize when in dire situations. However, it’s important to remember that there is always hope, even in the darkest moments, even if it seems impossible.
Jesus promised the disciples three things – that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy and in constant trouble.G.K. Chesterton
Becoming a Christian does not guarantee an easy life. John 16:1–4 shows the warning of the disciplines by Jesus about the persecution they will face. His intention is not to frighten, and the message seems depressing: the potential for persecution, violence or even death is a reality for people of the Christian faith. Nevertheless, John 16:1–4 shows us that Jesus was honest; hardship and persecution will come. This means holding fast to Christ, not giving up hope, and continuing to trust in him.
John 16:25 combines teaching, remembrance, warning, and encouragement as believers need to remain faithful, knowing this is all part of God’s knowledge and His will. Rather than reacting in panic or doubt, followers of Christ should feel a sense of peace. The peace and frankly joy held by born-again believers comes from knowing that Christ has already obtained the victory, and there is nothing that can undo that stated in Romans 8:38–39.
“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”1 Peter 3:14-17, NIV
Peter writes to a group of Christians who are experienced intense suffering for Christ. Christians who are suffering are blessed, which is counter-intuitive in the prosperity gospel. It is critical for Christians not to lose themselves in the suffering or resort to destructive behavior because people will notice the response. Hopefulness and joy are two noticeable different responses from the same suffering.
The difference is hope.
Even in the midst of suffering, hope should be apparent. Trusting in a good God doesn’t diminish our pain and suffering but allows Christians to endure it. The suffering causes more contentment in God and less in the world. Joy is not the removal or absence of suffering but delighting in His presence in all circumstances. Peter instructs Christians to be ready to give the reason for that hope, to make a case for Christ. Christians will need to answer: “Why believe in a good God that allows suffering?”
Recognizing the role of suffering in our relationship with Christ helps us see that Jesus was honest about hardship and persecution. We are called to hold fast to Christ, continue to trust in him, remain faithful, knowing this is all part of God’s will. Christ has already obtained victory, but every Christian must be ready to give a reason why God allows suffering. This article touches the surface of this topic, here are more resources about this topic.
- Jay Kim does a fantastic undertaking of holistic exploration of the theology and hope of why God allows suffering: http://jaykimthinks.com/why-pain-suffering
- Walking Through Pain and Suffering with God – by Tim Keller
- Evil and the Justice of God – by NT Wright