Ten Reasons why God Allows Suffering

For the last few weeks I have been blogging about the problem of evil. This is because the problem of evil is a hot issue with Christians and non-Christians. Some Christians think they shouldn’t endure suffering because they’re Christians. Non-Christians see the problem of evil and suffering as a stumbling block in their investigation into faith in God. So I think the problem of suffering and why God allows it should be addressed.

What good is the suffering we endure? Before answering this question, I want to stress that this is a religious problem of evil and should be answered in the following ways only after the person in pain has been reassured by the comforter that they are cared for and loved. The suffering person may not be able to contain these answers until the emotional pain has healed enough so that the sufferer is in a frame of mind for them to make a difference. The following answers are some reasons for suffering.

  1. God may allow suffering in a good person’s life as a basis for some future working in

a person’s life that glorifies God. There may be things that happen during

the trial that will show God’s hand in that person’s life.

  1. God’s affliction may remove a cause for boasting. Sometimes when things are going

smooth in our lives, we can tend to feel self-sufficient, as though we don’t need

God. Affliction will get our attention and remind us that we do.

  1. To demonstrate to Satan, our true and genuine faith to God. When God wanted

to demonstrate to Satan that Job’s love for Him was genuine, he allowed Satan

to strip away the blessings in Job’s life to show that even without them, Job would

still love God. It was a victory for God to be able to show Satan that there are people

who love God, not just because they’re prospering, but because their love

is genuine.

  1. For God to demonstrate the Body of Christ concept. We are all related to each other

through Christ and need each other. Suffering allows the sufferer to experience God’s

love through other believers.

  1. To promote sanctification. While suffering, we change our priorities. We shouldn’t

spend our time in the flesh, but doing the will of God. Professor and Chairman of the Department

of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, John S. Feinberg

says “afflictions cause us to exercise restraint in regard to the temptations that surround us, rather

than yielding to them.”[1] Another way suffering promotes sanctification is by refining

one’s faith. This will result in our praise and honor and glory to God. Also, God uses

our sanctification to educate believers and be an example to them so that they may

grow closer to the Lord. Sanctification gives us intimacy with God, challenges us to

grow and imitate Christ.

  1. There might be a ministry that results from our suffering. When one is suffering,

people are watching. Suffering can have a tremendous impact on the non-Christian who will

notice how the Christian reacts to affliction. When they see the Christian remain faithful in

affliction, they are impressed and know there is something different, almost supernatural, about

this person.

  1. To prepare us for future trials. Living in a fallen world means there will be more than

one trial in our lives. God prepares us for these trials. Part of that preparation is

in confronting whatever trial one is enduring at the moment.

  1. To prepare one for judgment of their works for rewards. 1 Peter 1:7 says that

affliction helps to prepare the believer for the coming of Christ at which time

their faith and actions will be “found unto praise and honor and glory at the

appearing of Christ.” In other words, trials make us more Christ-like which will mean

rewards for us on the day of judgment.

  1. For God to exalt us. God said that whomever is great in his kingdom must be brought

low. Affliction will do that, so that someday God may exalt us. Christ Himself is an

example of this. He left his Heavenly home to come down to earth and become human. He, as

author and pastor Bill Hybels puts it, “descended into greatness.”

  1. As a means to take us home to be with the Lord. Our final affliction will usher us into

Heaven and into everlasting blessings. I like Feinberg‘s perspective on this; “Affliction

leading to death may just be God’s way of promoting someone to His presence.”[2]

 

No matter what the circumstances, we need to remember to let God be God and

know that we are not. Finally, I will conclude with a quote from Clergyman and author,

Phillip Brooks,

Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger people. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at yourself, at the richness of life, which has come to you by the grace of God.

            [1] John S. Feinberg, The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problem of Evil (Wheaton, Ill., Crossway Books, 2004) 479-487

            [2] Feinberg, The Many Faces of Evil, 486

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