Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering?

It would seem that in the midst of this current world pandemic, we will experience different levels of pain and suffering over the next few weeks and beyond.

Personal Pain

I remember asking God why He allowed pain and suffering on two occasions in my life. I remember early in my life when my mother walked out on our family. This was a very emotional time. Although I was only two years old, this pain resurfaced as I grew older. When I was a young child my father turned my brothers and me over to a group home agency where we spent the rest of our childhood. Why? Why couldn’t I have a normal family? Why did I have to go through this?

The second occasion came my senior year of high school when I became very sick. I was so sick that I had to miss the entire basketball season. I also missed a month of school. Why did God let this happen to me? Why did I have to go through this? Some good did come from my sickness. In the end, the girl that visited me the most in the hospital ended up going with me to the senior gathering and ultimately became my wife!

Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering?

Have you ever asked this question? Why would God, if He in fact has the power, allow pain and suffering in the lives of the people He created? Our logical minds may tell us that if we could stop someone from having pain and suffering in life we would. Our logic says that if God Almighty can stop pain and suffering in the lives of so many, then He should do just that. Why doesn’t He?

The critic of Christianity would respond that God is either not all-knowing, not all-powerful, or not all-good.

This question goes back to those who witnessed two World Wars, the Holocaust, genocides in the Soviet Union and China, devastating famines in Africa, the killing fields of Cambodia, the emergence of AIDS, the genocide in Rwanda. And the 21st Century didn’t start any better. There was 9/11 and now the Syrian slaughters, and currently the Coronavirus. Why do all these horrific things happen if there’s a loving and powerful God?

My Friends this is what I know – THE BIBLE ASSERTS THAT GOD IS ALL-POWERFUL AND ALL-GOOD AND THE EVIL AND SUFFERING IN THIS WORLD BOW TO HIS WILL! Talk about bad things happening to good people. Was there ever a person to walk the earth who was perfect like Jesus? Jesus knows about suffering. He was “Despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). He was ridiculed, betrayed, beaten, humiliated, abandoned, falsely accused and put to death. This was the greatest evil that has ever occurred upon this earth—God sending His Son and humanity killing Him. Yet this evil bowed to God’s will in that God used the evil of mankind to bring salvation!

Purpose in Your Suffering

In any given situation, the truth is, we can’t know all the reasons why God allows bad things to happen. We know that God uses suffering for our good to make us more like Christ (Rom. 8:28-29). So, if you are allowing your suffering to make you better (more like Christ) and not bitter then you know God is working His glorious purposes in your life in overcoming evil and suffering. The greatest victor over evil and suffering is for good to come out of it, not more evil.

A pastor friend of mine and his wife were expecting their third child not long ago. Sadly, the child died in the womb just a few weeks before it was due to be born. I saw pictures of him and his wife holding their deceased baby. It was a very sad time for all those who knew this family. Here is what the pastor wrote on social media:

We have gotten angry at the situation but never at God. We know He is good even in the darkness. We know He is our only light in all of this, and we know our little boy is safe in the arms of our Creator right now. You might think that God doesn’t care what happens to us, is vengeful towards His creation, doesn’t love us, or doesn’t exist at all. Even when bad things happen, it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love us, that we are being cosmically punished, or that He doesn’t exist. It means His plan is much longer than the short game with quick results we all crave. It means even in the darkness He cries with us for what we are enduring. We must trust Him as our Creator knows better than us and let Him be God. We will still be processing things for a while, we will all as a family be changed by this event. But we will use it to point to the only light that can truly comfort in the darkness. To Him be the glory and may more know His goodness and truth as we look to point to Him through all of it. Thankful He uses broken people like us to bring Him glory. May Christ be exalted!

Unless you accept God’s grace to deal with suffering, inevitably you will become bitter. However, if you choose to trust God to bring about His purposes through the suffering, you can avoid the trap of bitterness and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.

Learn to look “unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).

And, the writer of Hebrews says: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Those Who Suffered Before Us

Remember Paul suffered through beatings, stoning, shipwrecks, imprisonments, rejection, hunger, thirst and homelessness—which is far more pain than most of us will ever have to endure.  Paul wrote in Romans 8:17-18: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” The joy of heaven and our eternity on the other side far outweigh the pain and suffering of this life.

Remember Joseph? He suffered and it prepared him to fulfill his destiny to be a great leader. When Joseph served Potiphar, he learned to be a manager; when Joseph was betrayed and abused, he learned firsthand the value of justice and mercy. Both benefits, as well as many others, were ultimately part of God’s plans to prepare Joseph for leadership. Is God allowing your suffering to prepare you for leadership?

Embracing Suffering as a Path to Spiritual Maturity

God does much more than sympathize with you in your troubles. So when tragedy strikes, as it will; when suffering comes, as it will; when you’re wrestling with pain, as you will—and when you make the choice to run into His arms, here’s what you’re going to discover: you’ll find peace to deal with the present, you’ll find courage to deal with your future, you will find yourself growing to be more like Christ, and you’ll find the incredible promise of eternal life in heaven.

The same God that allows the pain and suffering to exist in your life is the same God that can walk with you through it. He is the same God that will not let you experience the pain and suffering without grace and mercy.

Bob Anderson
Pastor Bob is married to Heather and they have two adult children Tori and Hailey. Bob’s primary function is to oversee the Faith Church North Campus, the Hartford Hub, assist with the Northend Community Center and the respective community ministries and programs. Bob has spent 20+ years in student ministry and is the founder of an urban ministry in Chicago reaching teens. Bob has authored 14 books/booklets.