A young mom dies of cancer, a suicide bomber takes multiple lives, a young man struggles with depression, a child is being bullied, and the list of pain and suffering goes on and on. No one wants to be in pain or suffer in life, yet it seems that life delivers a different message. Just turn on the news and you will see pain and suffering taking place on a global scale.
Why? Or better yet, why does God allow it to happen? I mean if God is good, why does He allow bad things to happen? Why does He allow people to suffer?
There are many unanswered questions in life and I suppose to some level, this is one of them. It would seem pretentious and even callous to claim to fully understand the “why” behind pain and suffering. But there are some helpful truths to consider before we start making God the bad guy or blaming Him for not stepping in. Let’s look at a couple…
Pain & Suffering Comes From Freedom of Choice
Genesis 2:16-17 – And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Let’s just set the biblical record straight. Today’s pain and suffering were never God’s plan. God created us for a perfect and painless existence. The genesis of our pain and suffering goes back to God allowing everyone the dignity of choice. God didn’t create robots but made people in His image with the ability to love and be loved. In order for love to exist, there has to be freedom of choice. Otherwise, you simply have machines interacting with one another.
The problem with this freedom is that it can be used to hurt, abuse, and cause pain to others. This is called selfishness. When my happiness trumps your happiness, it will cause you pain and vice versa. It is the selfishness of mankind that has set us on a collision course of pain and suffering. So if we are going to blame anyone for the pain and suffering in the world today, let’s blame ourselves, our greed, our hate, our sinful choices and not God.
The only thing we can legitimately blame God for is the freedom to choose and love each other.
Pain & Suffering Can Lead to Good
Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Even though freedom of choice is the culprit in our pain and suffering, God can still use it for good. Think about it, it’s the pain of physical exercise that keeps you healthy, it’s the pain of a surgery that allows for healing, it’s the pain of a broken heart that causes compassion, and it’s the pain of the cross that secures your eternity. Even though pain and suffering are bad, it doesn’t always have to result in bad. It took the pain and suffering of Jesus on a cross to save us from Hell and God did it because He loves us (see my blog, Hell No).
This means that even though God may allow pain and suffering to take place, He is not checked out and still loves you and can provide strength, perspective, and relief. This doesn’t mean the pain will necessarily go away, but it does mean He will help you get through it (c.f. 2 Cor. 12:7-10). In this way, God is able to make bad things good, turning lemons into lemonade. We may not notice it right away, but as we trust and follow Him, the light of hope will blossom out of the darkness of pain and suffering.
As I write this post, I’m humbled by those of you who are walking the path of significant pain and suffering. I’ve watched you endure to levels I can’t imagine, yet I’ve also seen God meet you in supernatural ways. You bring us hope that God will keep and protect us all on whatever painful path we are called to walk as we trust and follow Him.
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