Why Does God Allow Suffering?
Gosh, I hear this a lot. It is a great question. It is a key question to God, to our faith and one we need to be able to answer, if not just in a general way. The shoulder-shrugging I don’t know answer doesn’t cut it with most people who are on the fence about their faith and is a main finger-pointing answer to those who do not believe.
“See, even you can’t answer that basic question. Why should I believe in something that I see no benefit from?” A very good answer to what seems like a basic question. Kind of like ‘why should I get a Kia? I want a Corvette. You say I should be conservative and safe, but why? Oh, and this seat belt thing, why should I use one? It wrinkles my linen pants.’ I picked those two cars because I have sat in both and owned one of them.
So why does He?
So, why does He allow it? He is God. ‘You tell me He loves me, and yet my hair is on fire. He could put it out or not allow it all together. Why would anyone follow a god who allows hair to catch on fire? Especially if I am a good man and didn’t do anything to deserve it. It’s not my fault.’
All valid comments. Let me see if I can give you my insight, some Biblical, but most, just from me and having ‘time over target’ kind of look at it over the years.
In our faith, and in our record of history, God sent his son, to be human and live with us. His name was Jesus. “Mark, I get that. move on.” Okay hang on. So, he was to come and walk among us and cause us to believe what his father-God-inspired in us, what was written about his Father. That he loves us and hates sin.
Sin we chose.
Since Adam ate the apple Eve gave him, in direct disobedience to God’s instruction, we have been contaminated with sin. It’s in our DNA, metaphorically speaking. We cannot help but sin.
“Whoa there buster. I don’t sin. I mean, like on a regular basis. I’m not like that guy around the block whose house looks like something out of horror movie. Now that guy, well, he has some issues. I’m not that guy.’
We are all that guy.
We all are that guy. Some of us dress better, look better, smell better, but dwell on this idea-what if that guy, the guy with the horror movie house, believes in God and you don’t? And he gets to Heaven, and you don’t, simply by faith? How fair is that?
‘See? That’s what I’m saying too! Why would a loving God do that, particularly to me? I’m a nice guy but why does he make my business fail, my wife sick? Why does my car not start and I have no money to fix it? If He loves me, why does he allow me to suffer?’
Good question. I will give you an answer that works and continues to work-for me. You can steal it if you want.
My wife died a few years ago. Cancer. She had breast cancer in 2000 and the chemo treatment, although very effective, had a slight chance of causing another cancer, ALL. Don’t ask me to pronounce it. Its three long words, anyways, guess who was the one-percenter seventeen years later?
My whole family was raised as Christians. We checked that box. But my wife was sick most of our marriage with things other than cancer and so after 2000, I kind of slept with one eye open. The doctor told us if the cancer does come back ‘it will be angry and have teeth.’ so for years I waited. And as if it was ordained, it finally showed up. For the next year, she was in the hospital with the exception of a couple of weeks. She was doing stem-cell transplants which meant they had to kill her bone marrow and white blood cells. The treatment was, less than smooth, the inside of her esophagus was corroding and she, herself, would sit in bed and suction it out like it was just another day. The transplant was successful and after 100 days, it looked really good.
She died two months later.
Why would God allow that?
Why would God allow that? Suffering, why would He allow her to suffer for all that time, only to kill her off? I have an answer. I have an answer which works for me.
Because it could have been so much worse.
We think God allows us to suffer on purpose and I guess in a way He does. But what if our suffering, our issue-whatever it is, is cut short? Remember, we live in an infected world. We are breathing in infection. There’s a reason we live to the ripe old age of 80 and not 900 years like some of the Old Testament guys. God hates suffering because we were never supposed to suffer. Sin did that and the Evil One owns that.
We think we are suffering and God is the cause of it, but in fact, because of our inheritance of sin in our line back to Adam, we cannot help but sin. I am dead in my sin, only most of the time, I don’t know it. We walk around and life seems pretty good but like Solomon said, ‘it’s like chasing after the wind.’ Here was a guy who had it all, and he looked around and it was nothing.
God uses the pain of sin, to draw us to Him.
God uses the pain of sin, to draw us to Him. Like my kids when they got hurt, they ran to me, actually, my wife. She held them and sympathized with them. She made the pain stop. That’s what God does. Oh and with that, He brings an awareness of himself to us. I would be willing to bet, most of the time, in our pain and in our suffering, if it was allowed to go, it would be so much worse! Then, if we are lucky, while in our pain, He reveals Himself.
When that happens, we are stunned with our mouths hanging open. At least I was. There were and I am sure-at least I hope-times where if my suffering did not take place, huge aspects of God, His presence, things with other people, other events which may or may not have happened, I would not be aware of.
Then, in the car, usually stopped at a light at an intersection, He allows me to see just a small part of what He did or did not allow.
And I start to cry. Like rea tears cry.
There is a list….
There is a list of things, glorious things, which never would have happened had Joni not died. Faith in the idea she was going to a better place, calmed me and allowed me the humble honor of escorting her off the rock.
Here, get your mind wrapped around this idea: God allows suffering for us.
In the novel, Les Miserables, Jean Valjean never would have found God, had he not gone to prison-for twenty years. He never would have saved Cossette.
It is me.
That is us. It’s me!
Suffering builds endurance, endurance builds character, character builds hope, it says in Romans 5.
God never leaves us or forsakes us. It might seem like that, but he never does.