June 28, 2012

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Everyday we see so many forms of suffering. People who are bad and who are good, people who are young and who are old are all suffering. So why does God allow this to happen?

The problem of pain has troubled theologians for centuries.  Critics have used it in attempt to disprove the existence of an all-loving and all-powerful God.  We’ve all struggled justifying our faith in the midst of suffering.  While some pain is punitive as a result of sin, some pain is redemptive as in the miracle of childbirth.  Other pain seems to have no explanation and just doesn’t make sense.  In fact, our English word absurd came from the word surd meaning irrational or beyond meaning.  Job must have felt that way when he suffered.  It’s interesting that God never explained his suffering to him, yet loved and honored him nonetheless.  Faith may not explain it completely, but it does transcend suffering.  True faith endures suffering while maintaining a right view of the character of God.

Essentially, we would all agree that suffering is a result of sin.  The Bible says in Romans 5:12 (NIV) Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.”  Consequently, we live in a fallen and sinful world and are subject to suffering even when it may not be our fault.  Keeping an eternal perspective helps when suffering.  Knowing that this isn’t heaven but that one day God will deliver me from suffering into His eternal kingdom gives me perseverance.  It also helps to know that Jesus suffers with us when we suffer. Hebrews 4:15 says We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.” 

The real question is not why God allows suffering but how can we respond to it?  The writer of Hebrews goes on to say, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV/KJV)