The other night someone text me and asked me, in three sentences, to give my opinion why God allows suffering. Wow, that’s a tough thing to do, especially in just three sentences.
Many folks smarter than I am have written books about suffering and why God allows it. So, what could I possibly have to add to that conversation?
But, I thought about it. Why would God allow suffering? There really aren’t many good or easy answers, because in short, we don’t fully understand the mind of God, we don’t totally understand His power and His control, and the complexity of human free will.
All of these factors come into play on this issue.
I thought it would be interesting to share my answers with you, and do this a little bit different from our normal devotional. What do you think? Do you agree with my thoughts? Do you have a different perspective? A different view? I’d love to hear it, if so comment below, I’d love to hear it.
And I will also say; something I do when thinking through complicated things is do not depart from scripture. I believe that in all things, scripture must be our guide.
Here’s my one bullet point about God’s power and suffering. I believe this as much as I believe anything in life:
The power of God is not that He stops bad things from happening. The power of God is that He can bring good out of anything.
That’s who He is.
Also, remember this. Through the cross, God, through Jesus suffered as we suffered. He knows what it is like feel pain and hurt. Listen to what it says in Hebrews 2:17-18:
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
God knows our pain. Has suffered as we suffer. Hurt as we hurt. Was abandoned as we are abandoned. We don’t suffer alone. God is with us (Psalm 23).
So, with that said, here are my three sentence on why God allows suffering, along with a biblical foundation and explanation.
1. He uses all things in life; even those we can’t understand at the time, for our good. (Genesis 50:20) God is at work in ways that we can’t understand, working out all things, even ours and other’s choices, for our good. That passage in Genesis says that what man intended for evil, God intended for God. God uses everything, in time, that is key to remember, for good. We man not know or understand it now. But looking backwards, we will see something good come out of everything.
2. He uses suffering to reveal to us who we really are; he knows us, it is we who sometimes need to know ourselves. (Genesis 22 – Abraham sacrificing Isaac). Abraham was tested, but this test and suffering wasn’t for God’s benefit, but for his. He had made mistakes, and this test shows that he was more faithful than he thought he might be. He was more than his mistakes. Testing from God’s perspective isn’t about us. God knows us, knows what we will do, knows our choices. Testing is for us. It is our chance to see who we are. When we suffer, and we hold on fast to Jesus, we see that we are more faithful than we can ever imagine. It is in times of suffering we find our who we really are. God uses those times to let us know ourselves.
3. He uses all things, in the end, to bring glory to His name. (Romans 8:28). All things, not only work for our good, but most importantly, all things work for God’s glory. God is glorified through our suffering. How? Well, He may do amazing things in our suffering that give us a testimony, and that may impact someone else. He may give us strength to stand that we didn’t know that we had. He may change some life through what we go through. In the end, even terrible, terrible events, God will ring something good out of it. He will. Perhaps because of what you are going through, you may be able to show grace and mercy to someone that needs it. You may able to understand their pain, and be the hands and feet of Jesus to them. You may be able to to change their life.
I hope these are helpful to you in your walk.
What do you think?
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