When we attempt to answer the question “Why does God allow suffering?”, we must start with the origin of all suffering.
Pain and suffering entered into the world when Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God and eat the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 3:1-19, Romans 5:12)
Their betrayal in the Garden brought sin and shame into their own hearts, and into the nature of everyone born afterward, inducing misery upon mankind. The fallenness of man carries with it disorder, dysfunction, death, and destruction. It’s no wonder there is such immense suffering in this world.
Why does God allow suffering for Believers?
The apostle Paul said that the Lord comforts us in all our tribulations so that we can comfort others. That reveals one answer to the question “Why does God allow suffering?”, so we can bear the burdens of others.
2Corinthians 1:6-7 (KJV) ~ And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
Another place to turn to help us understand why God allows suffering is the book of 1 Peter. In it, Peter wrote to persecuted Christians who were losing their rights, privileges, and lives for following Jesus.
Three things that Peter highlighted for believers to focus on when suffering are God’s Son, God’s will, and God’s glory. Doing so lifts our heavy hearts, strengthens our faith and resolve, and changes our perspective about our problems. 1 Peter is a great book to help process the pain and respond to suffering in a way that glorifies God. And it gives us another answer to “Why does God allow suffering?”, which is for our sanctification, as we fellowship in the sufferings of Christ.
1Peter 4:12-13 (KJV) ~ Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
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Why did God allow suffering in Jesus’ life?
Jesus was the only begotten Son of God, sent to save the world from their sins, because of God’s great love for humanity. (John 3:16, 1John 4:9) God was well pleased with his beloved Son. (Matthew 17:5, Luke 3:22)
And Jesus obeyed his Father perfectly (John 8:29, John 6:38, John 17:4), yet he faced horrific suffering. Jesus was brutally murdered on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of the world and reconcile lost sinners to a holy God.
The only one who never deserved it, because he was sinless, was the one who endured the most suffering. Why? Because of God’s love for us, and Jesus’ love for His Father.
God allowed suffering in his beloved Son’s life for the greater good of the world. Jesus bore it so that you and I could enjoy paradise forever, and have a relationship with the God of the universe.
And because of the example of Jesus, we have another answer to the question “Why does God allow suffering?”, to expand the family of God.
Hebrews 2:9-10 (KJV) ~ But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Why did God allow suffering in Job’s life?
In the book of Job, we learn that Job was protected, respected, fruitful, powerful, and well-provided for by God. Satan thought that Job reverenced the Lord because of the blessings that came from Him. He assumed Job would surely curse God if it was all removed. (Job Chapter 1)
So God allowed Satan to afflict Job with grievous suffering, the likes of which many of us have never seen. He lost his children, servants, livestock and livelihood, health, status in the community, and all respect from his wife. But Job never lost faith in God and he didn’t turn away from Him despite all of his affliction.
Thus, God’s point was proven to the Devil, that Job served him out of love and adoration for who He was and the relationship they had together, not for the things God provided.
We see here that God allowed suffering in his precious servant Job’s life to put Satan in his place, to strengthen Job’s faith, and deepen his understanding of God. (Job 42:5)
Suffering strengthens us
So why does God allow suffering? There are undoubtedly many reasons beyond these, but a few of them are:
- To help us love our neighbors well and bear their burdens.
- For our sanctification.
- For expansion of the family of God.
- To draw us into more intimate knowledge of and fellowship with God.
- To strengthen our faith.
I know in my own life that God allows suffering to humble me, break me of self-sufficiency, and keep me dependent on God and his grace. (2Corinthians 12:9) It spurs on my spiritual maturity and makes me a better minister of truth.
Psalm 34:18-19 (KJV) ~ The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
Suffering has an end
Believers have the hope of Heaven to look forward to. The sting of suffering is lessened when we keep our minds on that truth. This world is not all there is, and those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord will have every tear wiped away. (Revelation 7:17, 21:4)
So if you’re in a season of suffering right now, know that even if God doesn’t take it away, he loves you. I encourage you to pray without ceasing, soak up the scriptures, and reach out to your sisters in Christ. You don’t have to suffer alone, God has given you his word, his Spirit, and his Church to help you.
You may not ever know exactly why God allowed it, but you can know how to respond to life’s difficulties. Allow the word to work on your heart and help you be sober-minded in your suffering. God has glory to gain from everything we face in this fallen world. He is worthy of all of our praise no matter what our circumstances.
Romans 8:18 (KJV) ~ For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
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Annie McGuire is a Bible teacher, ministry leader, pastor’s wife, and mom of four. She is the writer behind the website Daily His Disciple. Her ministry goal is to encourage and equip women to know, live, and invest the word of God. Annie writes devotions, bible studies, and for other websites. To connect with Annie visit: www.dailyhisdisciple.com, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.