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Apr 18, 2020 08:00am
Why Does God Allow Suffering?
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It’s to that point. 

You know what that point is for you. 

Some of us have been stuck at home for several weeks . . . Maybe the house feels crowded or maybe it feels lonely. 

Maybe we miss our friends. 

Our “normal” routines. Our “normal” lives. 

I’ve seen countless memes on Facebook and Instagram about the quarantine that many of us are living with . . . How some feel like they might want to scream, how others don’t know how to monitor schooling at home or how “when we all go out, I’m going to ____.” 

Maybe it’s going out to eat that you miss. 

Or going to movie theaters. 

Maybe it is the cruise or vacation you planned. 

Maybe it is a wedding pushed back. 

Maybe you miss shopping and not feeling nervous when you get groceries at Wal-Mart or Kroger. 

At first, maybe it felt like a new adventure . . . But now, it may feel much too real as more people you know have lost their jobs, gotten sick with the virus, or even passed away from it. 

What are we going to do? The world is waiting, watching the news, maybe even praying for a miracle. 

Praying for a job. 

Praying for enough money to have food on the table for their kids and families. 

Six months ago, we couldn’t have foreseen a global pandemic that would rock the nation, rock the world. So how long is this going to last? 

How many more people are going to die? 

How could a good God allow this to happen? 

Some people believe the God of the Bible cannot exist because “how can a God who is all-powerful also be all-loving?” How can a “good” God allow human suffering? 

Why? 

There are several answers for this. None may soothe the pain in people’s hearts except from the joy and peace that God gives himself no matter the circumstance: 

First, there’s the “Adam and Eve” answer. We have to deal with suffering, pain and death because of the original curse of sin. Once Eve and Adam disobeyed God, it was like we all did. Humans, because of our pride, fell. And now we must face the consequences. 

Then there’s the “Good may outweigh the bad” answer. That even when the world is swarming, God is working through it. People are stepping up and helping others. For the first time, the world has to pull together to fight the same war.  

On the local level, families are able to spend time together (maybe too much time) where all the distractions of extracurriculars are stripped away. Husbands and wives are stuck together, for better or worse. Maybe giving couples the time they need to go through issues that have been on the backburner for a long time. 

Church is online – more than ever people have access to the gospel through social media than probably ever before with so many churches streaming sermons and Bible teaching. 

Babies are still being born, people are still getting married, life is still going on . . . even when it feels like everything has been stripped away. Maybe it will take a major global pandemic for people to focus on what’s really important. But this may not be reason enough for why over one million people have died from this pandemic. 

There is one answer I do appreciate, though, and it is found in Isaiah chapter 53. 

“He [Jesus] was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; he was despised, and we didn’t value him. Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds. We all went astray like sheep;we all have turned to our own way; and the LORD has punished himfor the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6)

Christ suffered on our behalf. God himself knows what it’s like to suffer, and when we endure times that are challenging in more ways than one, we can depend on him because he literally died for us so we may have abundant life. 

Interestingly, Christianity does not teach that suffering is a “bad thing”. The Bible teaches that through suffering, we should rejoice because that is when we are challenged to grow. 

James said in chapter one of his book, “When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4). 

You can also take Paul’s word for it too:

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

Yes, we are living in unprecedented times. But we are not alone, and we do not have to suffer by ourselves. So, if you are at your breaking point, take a deep breath. And seek God.