Some skeptics argue that the existence of evil in the world proves God does not exist, which supports their position that there is no God. Or, others could ask why a good and loving God would subject his creations to pain and anguish. You may be trying to put together the pieces of a stormy God, or you may have a friend or kid who is asking, “Why does God allow suffering?”
Although God is benevolent and does not desire his people to suffer, the Bible makes it very plain that pain is an inevitable part of existence. Taking a look at the Scriptures and learning about the Christian perspective and theology can help us see how this is possible.
- 1 What Does The Scripture Say About Suffering?
- 2 Does Suffering Point To God’s Existence?
- 3 How Did Suffering Enter Our World?
- 4 How Does Sin Cause Suffering?
- 5 Why Does God Allow Suffering?
- 6 2 Reasons Why God Allows Suffering
- 7 Is It Okay To Ask God To Take Away Your Suffering?
- 8 How Does God Show His Goodness Amidst Suffering?
- 9 Does God Have A Plan To End Suffering?
- 10 A World Without Suffering
- 11 Conclusion
What Does The Scripture Say About Suffering?
The Apostle Paul encountered several forms of human suffering (2 Corinthians 4:8–10). Foolish choices might result in suffering. This is evident in the Book of Proverbs: fools incur harm (13:20), slothful people get hungry (19:15), and adulterers suffer as a consequence (6:32).
All of creation, including the virtuous, will groan under the weight of sin and pain, which is a byproduct of sin (Romans 8:20–22). You won’t find any of these things elsewhere but in heaven (Revelation 21:4).
What The Bible Teaches Us About Sin And Suffering
Sin and suffering originated in Satan, and Adam’s fall caused all human misery (Genesis 3). The curse of humans’ sinful character and the rest of creation is a direct result of free will (Romans 5:12–21), yet individual decisions also make people sinners (Romans 3:23; Galatians 6:8). Sin-caused suffering is a painful reality of human life.
Despite the fact that Christians can endure everything because of the love of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:35), the Christian nevertheless has to grapple with the unfathomable nature of suffering. This internal conflict was sensed by David when he pleaded, “How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1). Sin causes a breach in communion with God (Isaiah 59:2), which is painfully felt by the believer while wrestling with sin.
Alternatively, in the New Testament, particularly Romans 5:3–5, we are encouraged to see suffering as something that is good, that it builds character—and “character produces hope” just as suffering produces endurance. When we take this perspective on suffering, we experience pure joy and confident hope, knowing that it is when we trust God that the suffering will end.
Does Suffering Point To God’s Existence?
C.S. Lewis, an author and scholar at Oxford, first struggled to believe in God because of the problem of evil. In the end, though, he came to see that his moral compass led to the reality of a just and good God.
He elaborated on his case against God in simplistic Christianity, saying that the universe appeared harsh and unfair. But where did he learn to distinguish between right and wrong? Someone who has no concept of straight lines cannot possibly label a line as crooked. To what did he liken this universe and then label it unjust?
The compassion shown by so many people in their desire to alleviate so much suffering is a reflection of God, who created us in his image. He also mentioned that we thought the world might be better. We hope to end all the suffering. This yearning is a gift from God, who wants us to keep our eyes open for a purpose beyond this world.
The most likely answer, according to Lewis, is that he was created for another world if he discovered in himself a need that no experience in this world can fulfill.
The Miracle Of The Blind Man
In his gospel in the New Testament, John recounts the time Jesus healed a blind man. The story goes that as Jesus miraculously cured a man born blind, his disciples asked who sinned that caused this man to suffer such an affliction: himself or his parents.
Jesus replied that “neither this man nor his parents sinned.” His pain and suffering were not a consequence of evildoing. Instead, he suffered so the people around him could witness God’s love. His miraculous cure was an example of God’s presence in our lives.
How Did Suffering Enter Our World?
Genesis, the first book of the Bible, teaches us about the world God created before sin and evil entered it. In this initial creation, humanity enjoyed a direct and harmonious relationship with God. The world God created was good, but humanity’s free will ultimately led to its destruction.
In their rebellion against God, humans caused all subsequent suffering. The tale of this first uprising may be found in the book of Genesis. Adam and Eve were the first people God created, and he blessed them with a good and flawless world. He imposed a single rule on them:
“You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die” (Genesis 2:16–17).
To trick Eve into thinking God was hiding something from her, the devil disguised himself as a snake. He warned, “God knows that as soon as you consume it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, understanding good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
The devil promised her that if she could only be like God, she could do things her way and not have to rely on God. Adam also made the conscious decision to disobey God’s one and only command by eating the fruit.
By eating from the tree, Adam and Eve chose to forego God’s authority and instead assume control over good and evil. Through their actions, humanity severed its relationship with God and tainted the good world that God had created. God’s chosen people were safe from natural evil and death. But by leaving his sanctuary, in which they had eternal life, Adam and Eve introduced death and suffering into the world.
The Book of Revelation, the Bible’s final book, describes God’s new creation in the form of paradise. God promises that one day he will wipe away all suffering and make everything new. Actually, he intends to live among his followers. It’s even greater since we won’t be able to mess up God’s masterpiece this time.
In the meantime, we must make do with a reality that is far from ideal. It’s up to us to decide whether to navigate this broken world with a perfect triune God—God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit—or on our own.
How Does Sin Cause Suffering?
Sin is defined in the Bible as rejecting God and all that results from it. From a Christian worldview, there is a spectrum of sins that might bring suffering. Please understand that God is not necessarily punishing you for your sins if you are in misery at this present time.
Suffering goes back to Adam and Eve’s rebellion. This is often referred to as “original sin.” The Bible teaches that much of humanity’s suffering is a result of this breaking of human beings’ relationship with God and the spoiling of his perfect world.
The sin of Adam and Eve is the root cause of all suffering. This is commonly known as “original sin.” The Bible says that because of this sin, God’s pristine world has been tainted, and we are suffering as a result.
Everything around us is broken, from the frequency of natural disasters to the reality that individuals can no longer be trusted. The very fact of dying is a consequence of the fall into sin. Death did not exist before the first humans defied God and went their own way. God, the giver of life, was honored by Adam and Eve as they lived in peace with him. After that bond was broken, death was the next logical step.
As individuals, we are likewise vulnerable to the negative effects of our poor choices in life. God often lets people feel the repercussions of their deeds, which might involve pain. This is what we mean when we talk about “personal sin.”
It is possible that cheating on a test will result in you receiving a failing grade, failing the course altogether, or even disciplinary action against your academic standing. One’s freedom will suffer if one chooses to engage in criminal activity and may be sent to prison.
Why Does God Allow Suffering?
It’s easy to imagine a world free of suffering, but the one we really inhabit is far less ideal. We see a world that is cursed and full of wickedness, even in the Genesis passages. Maybe you’re wondering. I guess that works. Sin is real because humans have sinned. What role, if any, do circumstances like natural catastrophes and illness play? To what end does God allow such things?
Each created thing will eventually degrade and die, which is one of the reasons why bad things happen. According to Romans 8:21, “creation itself” is doomed to deterioration. Put a perfectly ripe apple on the porch so the kids can see it rot as a visual demonstration of this principle in action. Tell your kids that the world and human suffering are like a piece of fruit.
We are part of a decaying planet. Even Christians can experience physical harm or death from time to time. Illness is a known reason why people suffer. When asked, biologists can explain why the human body breaks down and dies. However, many people wonder why God allows evil in the form of sickness and natural calamities.
God Allowed Jesus To Suffer
To fully understand why God allows suffering, one need not look further than his only begotten son. While we say Jesus has never sinned, God still allowed him to experience the gamut of emotions people feel, including happiness, sadness, and suffering.
Jesus wept when Lazarus died, even though he knew Lazarus would be raised again. He did not weep for himself, however; he wept for Lazarus’s family, who were his dear friends. He showed empathy for their pain and suffering. And it is this self-sacrificing quality that would allow him to endure his agonizing journey to crucifixion.
2 Reasons Why God Allows Suffering
When some people seem to have things easier than others, you can’t help but wonder, “Why does God allow suffering in life?” But he has reasons. Ponder on these two reasons why God lets people suffer:
Because God Does Not Take Away Free Will
God made the universe and gave humanity free will to choose between obeying him and enjoying his wonderful creation or rebelling against him and wreaking havoc on their lives. The populace made the conscious decision to break away. We made our own choices; he let us make the call, and he did not interfere.
Because Of The Broken World We Live In
We know that from the beginning of creation until the present time, everything around us has been groaning together in what can only be compared to the pains of childbirth, as the apostle Paul puts it (Romans 8:22).
Accordingly, we consider the entire cosmos to be “out of whack” in some fundamental way. It has been explained by some theologians as the result of human rebellion, a consequence of “the fall” that has both present and future effects. Others argue that there was a previous uprising in the heavenly world that led to a “cosmic collapse” (hinted at in Revelation 12:9).
Is It Okay To Ask God To Take Away Your Suffering?
Yes. Recognize that Jesus Christ’s example of willingly accepting suffering as part of life’s path may help you grow as a person. Jesus Christ could have avoided hardship and lived a more comfortable existence, but he voluntarily subjected himself to it because he realized that suffering was the key to restoring humanity’s relationship with God and, ultimately, putting a stop to human suffering.
The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we may enjoy a life that is free from sin. Christ Jesus suffered so that we don’t have to. However, some of us take this suffering of his for granted. We are contributing to a fallen world where there is still much sin and suffering. Thus, as a fallible human being, one must turn to God to ease our pain and suffering.
Let God know how you really feel; he cares. God is not threatened by your doubts, grief, or wrath. He is emotionally mature and can manage your concerns. God longs to receive your unfiltered emotional surrender. He welcomes you as you are and wants to be your loving Father.
God desires a relationship with you, even if you do not currently have one with him. Jesus suffered for you to have no more death, forgiveness, hope, pain, or suffering for all eternity.
How Does God Show His Goodness Amidst Suffering?
God not only understands and feels our pain, but he also has the power to redeem it. God’s word excels at turning around seemingly hopeless circumstances.
When we suffer, God frequently uses individuals to show us that he is still there. Those who have been where you are can understand your anguish and provide both immediate and long-term solace if they have been through something similar themselves. God brings the right individuals into our lives at the right times to show us who we should be reaching out to.
If you or your loved ones are suffering from depression, infertility, or addiction, you know how helpful it can be to talk to someone who has been in your shoes. A buddy who is empathetic but lacks personal experience can’t provide much help, but a stranger who has been where you are may.
God can redeem even the worst of circumstances. This is seen in the life of Joseph, recounted in chapters 37 through 50 of the Book of Genesis. Because of their envy, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. Once there, Joseph endured much more hardship, including false imprisonment. However, God intervened, and Joseph found himself in a position of authority. He succeeded in preventing a catastrophic famine from wiping out the whole region, including his own family.
When Joseph’s brothers arrived in Egypt in search of sustenance during the famine, he eventually revealed himself to them. His brothers thought he’d get even with them, but Joseph comforted them by saying, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20).
God saved numerous individuals through something that looks terrible at first glance: people selling their brothers into slavery. Only a perfectly good God could create something nice from something evil.
The fact that God brings good out of evil does not make the evil God’s doing. Selling someone into slavery is wrong, but God used it to Joseph’s advantage. His story is an example that we should not question God’s heart—that he is a good God at the end of the day.
Negative things include natural disasters, death, killings, suicides, sadness, treachery, and injustice. They aren’t given to us by God. The fact that the Almighty Father can bring good out of the worst of times demonstrates God’s love and goodness. When God creates a new, flawless world for us to spend eternity in, he will ultimately resolve these problems.
Does God Have A Plan To End Suffering?
God not only notices when you are in pain, but he also willingly takes on pain for you so that you can spend eternity with him in a pain-free world. As part of God’s plan to save us from an eternity of suffering, he had to endure it himself.
God didn’t want to go through the pain of saving you, yet he did it anyway. Jesus Christ had to take on human flesh, endure hell, and die so you might be reconciled to God and spend forever with him.
This is explained in Hebrews 2:14–15: Jesus took on the human form because God’s children are human beings. Due to the devil’s control over death, he had to take on human form in order to die, and it was through his death that he defeated him. It was the only way to set free those who had been held captive by their own terror of death.
Knowing God’s character is essential to grasping the enormity of God’s sacrifice on your behalf. There is one God, yet in the Bible, we meet three: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Those of the Christian faith use the term “Trinity” to refer to this threefold nature of God. This is the truth, yet it is also difficult to fathom and impossible to fully comprehend.
According to Romans 8:31–32, “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own son, Jesus Christ, but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?”
A World Without Suffering
In an often bleak world, it might be comforting to know that the human story will have a happy ending, despite our universal experiences of suffering. Although the Bible depicts the final chapter, it is merely the beginning of our eternal journey with the all-powerful God.
What God has in store for his people’s eternal dwelling is hinted at in Revelation 21:1–4. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. And death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
When we face trials and tribulations and can’t fathom why we’re going through them, it’s important to have trust in the things we know to be true about God and the unchanging realities of his character, such as his superior intelligence, kindness, and authority. Our faith is not only strengthened by the fire of adversity but also refined and purified.
God may make good come out of bad for anybody, but the Bible says He does it, especially for His people in Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”