This is an impossible question to answer. There is so much in life that is a mystery and we have to admit we don’t have the answers. There is so much about God that we cannot even begin to understand, simply because He is far greater in wisdom and power than we are. But as in other dark areas of life the Bible sheds light. Without faith in God the whole question of suffering will become a meaningless tangle of knots.
Suffering can come because of human sin.
A drunken driver can cause untold pain and suffering to innocent bystanders. The pride and greed of Hitler brought terrible suffering to countless millions of people. When God made us He gave us the precious gift of free will. It is this that makes us human, enabling us to love and hate, help or hurt others. Without it we would be robots or machines incapable of love. But this great gift of freewill has been used again and again for evil. What we do affects other people for good or bad.
Suffering can come because of human imperfection.
No man or woman is perfect, and because of this we get ill, grow old and die. This is why deformed children are sometimes born. This is not God’s doing. He is not punishing the parents. He does not send illness. Disease and illness are all part of a sinful world and we are all subject to them – Christians as well as others.
Suffering can come because of human errors.
Hundreds of children were born crippled because their mothers took the Thalidomide drug. No way can God be blamed for this tragedy or others which result from either carelessness or lack of knowledge.
Suffering can come because of natural disasters.
IN some strange way sin has affected our earth and it is out of order. Because of his earthquakes, floods and droughts take place in certain parts of the world. People who live in these areas are constantly open to such disasters.
There are plenty of instances in the Bible of God punishing a wicked nation or person. But God does not send suffering. He allows it as He allowed His only Son to suffer on the cross for our sins. God only acts in love and justice. He cannot do wrong and He never makes mistakes. He can see the end as well as the beginning. We are people looking at the back of a tapestry – lots of threads all over the place and only a vague idea of the finished picture.
God is not controlled by time. We get angry and disillusioned with God if our prayers are not answered at once and in the way we expect. God does hear and answer, but in His way and in His time. We somehow have a built-in belief that God will always keep us from all accidents and illnesses.
God sometimes allows sufferings to test and strengthen the muscle of our faith. The way we react in suffering will determine whether we are growing in faith or slipping back into doubts and resentments. God suffers with us. He comes alongside us, helps us to accept it, live with and overcome it through His power and our own determination. Suffering brings God’s people closer to Him. They refuse to be beaten by it, because they know with Jesus that the suffering of the cross was the prelude to Easter day, and the best is yet to be.