You don’t have to look too hard to find it. Suffering is all around us and appears most unjust when good or innocent people, especially children, bear the brunt of it.
Suffering came into existence when Adam and Eve first sinned, when they rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Sin’s effects permeate everything. All of creation, including innocent animals, suffer under it.
But, can’t an all-powerful God prevent suffering?
Yes, He can. He often does, though we don’t always acknowledge it. The presence of suffering doesn’t mean God isn’t powerful enough to prevent it.
So if God can prevent suffering and loves us, why does He allow it?
The Book of Job tells the story of a godly man as he suffers through the unimaginable loss of his family, livelihood, and health. God didn’t cause these tragedies, but He allowed them to happen – for a reason.
As with Job, the pain we experience in this life is not without purpose. God can turn our suffering into good: drawing us closer to Him, strengthening and growing our faith (Romans 5:3), and shifting our focus from the temporary to the eternal.
Jesus knows our lives can be filled with pain. He said, “In the world you shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). Hope is found in knowing that our suffering allows us to experience God’s presence and peace in ways we can’t imagined. He is with us through it all – through times of grief, tragedy, and sickness.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). He is “near to the brokenhearted, He saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
While we won’t always understand the why question, we can trust God with the outcome. C.S. Lewis, in The Problem of Pain, reminds us that God wants to mature us. “Because he loves us, he labors to make us lovable,” Lewis writes.
The good news is that suffering is temporary. Sin, and its devastating effects, will meet its end and all will be set right.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)