Does God Make People Suffer?

Does God Make People Suffer? April 11, 2024

Does God Make People Suffer?

The other day, I was interviewed for Sean Kelley’s podcast Humble Faith and asked a question I’ve been asked many, many times because of the cancer I faced five years ago. “If God is all-powerful, why does God make people suffer?”

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What did a little baby do to cause God to make it suffer? In a word, nothing. But God didn’t “cause” the suffering.

Does God Make People Suffer?

In a word, no. God does not make people suffer. If anything, He protects us from the greater suffering that could and, in many cases, should take place. God doesn’t make people suffer. But he does allow people to face adversity. You may ask, “Well, what about the baby that has muscular dystrophy?” or “They were minding their own business, and they…got shot/were run into by a drunk driver/contracted cancer. They didn’t do anything to deserve this!” I will in no way speak for God or His thought process. But several things need to be understood before most can understand where God is coming from.

Point One—I’m Not the Boss of Me!

We hear three-year-old’s say it all the time, “You’re not the boss of me!” And they’re mostly right. None of us are really the bosses of ourselves because we don’t own ourselves. Huh? You read that right. We don’t own ourselves. We didn’t make ourselves, and we don’t have the ability to extend the lives of our bodies past our natural expiration date. What we are, are stewards of our bodies and souls. They were given to us, let’s say “created” for us by God—with the help of our parents. We had nothing to do with our own creation. Nada. Nichts. Niente.

Simply put, we are stewards—stewards of our bodies and souls. We are given our bodies and souls and then expected to get them into the best shape possible, like life-long calisthenics. We learn how our particular body works, what it can do, what it can’t do, what it might do if we train it a little more—then we go do it. Where we begin to make huge mistakes is when we start comparing our bodies to someone else’s and begin to idolize someone else’s bodies—thinking we can be “just like them.”

I did that in high school. I loved watching the show Hercules: The Legendary Journey with Keven Sorbo as Hercules. I wanted to look like him, walk like him—in effect, be him. Well, the only things we had in common were we were both males and we both had dark hair. That was it. I lifted weights, I went on a diet, and I studied his walk… but all it did was make me hungry, bulk up my arms, and walk funny. After about six months of being an idiot, I realized I needed to be the best me I could be—not Hercules or Kevin Sorbo. I learned the lesson.

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People are in pain; they hurt, not only physically but mentally and emotionally. Did God cause that?

Point two—We Need to Train Like an Olympic Athlete to Overcome.

In reality, we are all going to face adversity and trials, and most of us will fail in some way or another, and very few will get trophies. But here’s a secret: It’s always been that way! Ever since Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the wrong tree, we’ve been in one reeeaaally long test. We make choices every day. Do I get out of bed and go to work, or just blow it off? Do I do 120 miles an hour down the freeway because I want the rush, or do I follow the traffic laws? Do I smoke five packs and drink an entire bottle of booze a day, or do I take care of my health?

Even if I make the right choices most of the time, bad things are still going to happen to me. I might ask, “So why should I continue to choose to do the right thing if bad things are going to happen anyway?” Because, by doing the right thing most of the time, when the bad things happen, you’ve trained yourself to make the right choices! A person doesn’t automatically start making the right choices when something bad happens. No. Making the right choices is a skill. It’s something that needs to be practiced and honed.


Point Three—It’s All a Test.

The simple fact is that we are all going to face adversity; at least one thing will be that defining moment of who we are and what we’re made of. We’re told this in the most famous Christian prayer there is, The Lord’s Prayer. Toward the end of the prayer, there is the line, “…lead us not into temptation…” Basically, Jesus is asking God, “Please don’t test us. Don’t tempt us. Don’t throw up roadblocks and add adversity to our lives.” But He goes on to say, “…deliver us from evil.” In other words, “If you do test, tempt, throw up roadblocks and adversity, please, please, please get us through it!”

Look, none of us are going to get out alive. We are all going to die of something someday, and until then, we’re going to face tests. How we go into those tough times is up to us. I faced cancer and the loss of an entire career on account of it. Was it tough? Yup. Did I want to face it? Nope. Were there times I wanted to run screaming into the night? Oh, yeah. But when those times came, I had the love and care of a wife to help me through. I also took an hour a day and had a nice long talk with God. Notice the keywords here… with God. I’d pour out what I was feeling, but then I took the time to listen. It was in the times of listening that I found the strength, fortitude, and humor to get me through.

So, does God make people suffer? No. But he does allow every person ever born to go through something defining. How we make it through that test, that adversity, that temptation is going to be up to us. How we get through that tough time is going to depend on how we train ourselves to face those times that are hard. The only way we can do that is by knowing who we are—not trying to be someone else—but who we are and what we’re made of. But I still like watching Hercules: The Legendary Journey.

About Ben Bongers KM
Ben Bongers was an international operatic tenor and practicing sommelier for 30 years based in San Francisco, CA, and Europe. He has written monthly articles for trade magazines in wine and singing over a long and lustrous career. After becoming a semi-full-time caretaker for his parents, he earned an MA in Gerontology (the study of aging and care) and was asked to publish in an eldercare textbook in 2020. He has written several books, all published by EnRoute Books and Media. His first novel, THE SAINT NICHOLAS SOCIETY, has won many awards, and his other two, TRUE LOVE—12 Christmas Stories My True Love Gave to Me, and THE FARMER, THE MINER, THE ARTISAN (a children’s book) are both up for writing awards. Ben is a Knight in the Order of Malta and helped start an overnight homeless shelter at his San Francisco, CA parish. Today, he is a Permanent Diaconate Candidate in Kansas City, MO. You can read more about the author here.

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