Why Does God Let Us Suffer?

Why Does God Let Us Suffer? February 1, 2018

I have a friend who has cancer. It’s pretty advanced. He’s suffering a lot. He already has 4 kinds of cancer, and last week they found a cancerous brain tumor. Cancer number five.  After a quick operation, he is back to his old self…with only 4 kinds of cancer. Why is this happening to him?


care-3031259_640I had surgery several years ago and before going in they asked me if I had a living will. I wondered what that was, so I looked it up. A living will is a document outlining your wishes for your health care if you are no longer able to decide or communicate them.  So, with that document, I can ask doctors not to do anything to prolong my life if I’m terribly sick. And a part of me wondered if that was technically a ‘get out of jail free’ card for earth life.


Then my friend got the brain tumor and I thought, briefly, that this could be his ‘get out of jail free’ card. If they just let things run their course, he could be free of his diseased body. But I only thought about it briefly. Honestly, I am thankful he is still with us. But his level of suffering has really made me think… a lot.




Why does God let us suffer? I know that freedom of choice as one of God’s key gifts to mankind. He will never take away our freedom to choose. That is why some people suffer so much at the hands of others. I hate that. But I get it. However, when it comes to seemingly random health problems, or birth defects, or medical issues, that’s when I have to ask myself all over again what is going on.


89a0512df39082fc28aa4777f6f9f3c8I have a quote I found a few years ago that I have on my wall. It’s a quote from Russell M. Nelson. It says “Stellar Spirits are often housed in imperfect bodies.” I put it on my wall around the time my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s /Autism. I remember feeling crushed for him. I never wanted him to endure the challenges that Autism will give him. I cried for what I knew would be years of difficulty. No parent wants their child to suffer.


And slowly, as I have continued watching my child grow up, I have seen what a beautiful and strong soul he really has. He makes me proud of him every day! A lot of the quirks he has that used to stress me out have turned out to be his talents emerging.  For example, he started taking everything apart when he was 4 and 5. I couldn’t leave anything sitting out because it would be in pieces in a pile when I went back for it. It was so inconvenient having to reassemble the remote control 3 times a day.


Hidden Talents


Fast forward to yesterday, where my robot vacuum fell off the bench and broke. There were four kinds of sensor errors. I thought it was toast. But my son didn’t bat an eye. He just took it apart- into a million pieces. He examined every inch of it, cleaned it up, and put it back together. And it works again! He’s only nine years old, and he is fixing my vacuum! Sometimes I wish I could go back and tell the mom I was several years ago to relax. I would tell her that these challenges were headed somewhere good.


bits-925676_640I think I am beginning to understand the whole point of these heartaches of life. God is working to bring out our talents. My friend with cancer is a stellar spirit housed in an imperfect body, prone to cancer. As he is enduring tests and terrible treatments, he is learning things about himself. And the people around him are learning too.


God is giving us a chance to find out the answers.  It’s painful. But I’m also learning more about the nature of God. Just like me, God hates to see His children suffer. But He knows the end from the beginning. And He knows that there are limited directions one can take to reach the happy ending He has in mind for each of us. His perspective is perfect, and His vision is clear. I am learning to trust my Heavenly Father more as I begin to understand Him and His motives better. There is nothing that He wants more than to witness our triumph over all our trials.


We agreed to this


I believe we each sat down with God before we came to earth. Together we went over each of the challenges we would face. In that meeting with God, we agreed to everything, because it was easy in that eternal place to see where each challenge would lead. We were prepared to suffer for a purpose.


shy-863056_640Now we are in the midst of some of the most painful challenges we have ever had in all eternity. And it is easy to forget why we agreed to it. But the truth is that we trusted God. We knew Him and knew that His goals for us end in glory.


Our challenge is to keep trusting God, looking for the good things around us, and to be grateful for what we learn from each difficulty.


I am not happy my friend is sick. But I have never seen anyone with such a sense of humor. He is cracking jokes and brightening lives no matter where he is. I think that is one of his talents.  And as he is sharing them, we are all gaining greater strength to keep facing our own hardships. I really feel we are stronger together. And I’m grateful for what I am learning through my challenges.

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  • Sam

    Very good points. Those who use the fact that there are terrible situations in the world and in individual lives as “evidence” that there is no God are missing the entire point of life. We already did experience life without hunger and pain, imperfect bodies, tragic effects of horrible choices of others, natural disasters, scientific consequences of the laws of nature and science in an imperfect world. This was our life in the Spirit world before we were born. The things we experience here are what caused Jesus to bleed at every pore to see all the suffering. But as the scriptures say, all of this is but a moment. Joy cometh in the morning. Sometimes God does not answer our prayers by taking away the pain, but by sending peace and the help of others around us. Only the very unkind try to tear down others’ faith and destroy their peace.

  • Abby Christianson

    Beautifully said! Thank you.