Why do bad things happen? Why does it seem that good people are always being attacked and suffering has plagued their lives? Why do bad things happen in your life? You may be wondering why there is suffering in your life and why terrible things are happening. Maybe it’s a financial situation, maybe you are watching yourself or someone you love suffer through a disease or tough times. Why do young people lose their lives so tragically? Why is our justice system not properly distributing justice? All of these questions surrounding suffering are confusing and mostly, just depressing. This time, we are going to look at the Bible and see how God answers these questions and what our response should be.
First the question, why do bad things happen in general? Why is there suffering in the world, and maybe a more specific question, if God loves us and if he is so loving, why is there suffering and evil on the earth? Why are there wars, natural disasters, disease, terrorist attacks, car accidents, why do these things occur? This is a question that Christians and non-Christians debate and think about constantly. Why would a loving God allow so much suffering in His world? The Bible has some answers for us, so let’s look at a few.
There are two categories of suffering we could say that we experience. There is suffering that happens in the world, that may or may not have any effect on one person and then there are events that can be very personal because they are happening to you or to someone you know or love. Let’s start with the general question of why evil in the world.
Evil in the world in general comes from a number of factors. In Genesis 3, sin entered the world. We are still living in life outside of the garden, a world full of sin and death. People also do evil acts to each other because there is free will. God did not want to make us robots that follow His every command precisely. He wanted to create a people that would choose to love Him and obey Him instead of forcing His creation to love Him. It is a choice we have today. We have the freedom to choose what we want to do but those choices are not without consequences. We can choose any action through our freedom, but we also have to take responsibility for the actions we choose. So with this idea of free will, evil such as murders, robberies, terrorism, injustice and all other evil that humans are involved in can come from the choice we have to partake in those actions or not. Then there is suffering that takes place like diseases or natural disasters that can’t be explained by a person’s act of violence. How do we deal with these types of suffering? Well we live in a world where sin and evil thrive. We live in a fallen and broken world and because of this fact, the earth is not perfect either and so things happen that can be tragic to the fatality of humans.
What about those events that are very personal to you that cause you or someone you know suffering and hardships. Why do these occur? Again, free will and a broken world can have a lot to do with it but there are many reasons why these things might happen. For instance, it might be that God is trying to test your faith and allegiance to Him. We know that from Job, Abraham, and even Jesus this does occur. Job suffered tremendous lost only to prove his faith in Yahweh. Abraham was tested in a way that almost made him sacrifice his own son, (though God never intended that to happen). Jesus was tested by Satan himself to see if he would bow down to Satan or stay faithful. These examples can show us that sometimes, suffering happens as a test and God is wanting us to really trust Him with everything we have. Psalm 31:14-15 says this, “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors”. This is a statement of a man putting his full trust in God. The psalmist knows that God is in control and that He is able to save him from whatever is going on in his life. This is the attitude that we need to have even though it is not easy to have this mindset while we are going through a rough time.
Suffering can happen from and for all types of reasons and we may never know why a particular suffering is taking place. The important thing to remember is that God is a God who loves and cares for His people more than anything else. We live in a broken world with broken people and since we are all broken and sinful, our lives will never be perfect with no suffering. What we must do is trust God and know that God can do anything and He can do far greater things than we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
With all the suffering that goes on while on this earth, we can have hope and look forward to a day when Jesus will come and will restore everything to the perfect, sinless creation as it was in the beginning. Revelation 21:4 gives us a beautiful promise, “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” This is the day we all look forward to. A day when there will be no more suffering, a day when there will be no more pain. This is the day we look to and the day we await to come. But as we wait for this day to come, suffering and pain will continue because of the brokenness of the world. Some suffering we will understand in due time, some we may never know. The main thing we have to keep in mind is, God has it under control and we have to trust in Him.
In conclusion, the answer to the question, ‘If God loves us, why do we suffer?” has many parts. There is suffering in the world because of the consequences of sin and rebellious human actions. Why a particular suffering occurs to a person or small group can have many aspects and some we may never know. What we do know though is that God loves us so much that He sent His Son to die on a cross and be raised to life, so that we could live in eternity with Him, suffer free. God loves us enough to save us from this world, so even though we may suffer here on this earth in its broken state, we have a hope that God will save us for eternity and that just shows how much God truly does love us.