Daily Reflection: Why Would a Good God Allow Suffering?

It’s an old question. Four thousand years ago, a victim of personal, family, and financial reversals spoke to the silent heavens and pleaded, “Show me why You contend with me. Does it seem good to You that You should oppress, that You should despise the work of Your hands?” (Job 10:2,3,8). The questions are still being asked. “Does God hate me? Is this why He is allowing me to suffer like this? Why me and not others?”

There are answers. Not exhaustive, but enough to keep our pain in perspective. Enough to show us how to put suffering to work for us. In the following pages, RBC staff writer Kurt De Haan shows us that while heaven may not be answering all our questions, it is giving us all the answers we need to trust and love the One who, in our pain, is calling us to Himself.
Martin R. De Haan II

Elusive Answer

Life can be hard to understand. In trying to come to grips with the cold realities of our existence, we can easily become frustrated. We long for answers to the immense problem of suffering. We may even wonder if we will ever fully comprehend why bad things happen to good people and why good things happen to bad people. The answers often seem to be elusive, hidden, out-of-reach.

Oh, it makes sense that a terrorist would be killed by his own bomb. It makes sense that a reckless driver would be in a serious accident. It makes sense that a person who plays with fire would get burned. It even makes sense that a chain-smoker would develop lung cancer.

But what about the innocent men, women, and children who are killed by a terrorist’s bomb? What about the young driver who suffers severe brain damage because a drunk veered over the center line? What about the person whose home burns down due to no fault of his own? And what about the 2-year-old child with leukemia?

It is dangerous, even foolish, to pretend that we have a complete answer as to why God allows suffering. The reasons are many and complex. It’s just as wrong to demand that we should understand. When the Old Testament sufferer Job realized that he had no right to demand an answer from God, he said, “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3).

But God has given us some answers. Although we may not be able to know why one person gets singled out for a disease, we can know part of the reason why diseases exist. And even though we may not understand why we face a certain problem, we can know how to deal with the situation and respond in a way that pleases the Lord.

One more thing. I am not going to pretend that I fully understand the suffering that you personally may be experiencing. Although some aspects of human pain are common, the particulars are different. And what you may need most right now is not a four-point outline on why you are suffering or even what to do about it. What you may need most is a hug, a listening ear, or someone who will just sit with you in silence. Sometime along the way, however, you will want and need the truths of God’s Word to comfort you and help you to see your plight from God’s perspective.

You and I need more than untested theories. That’s why in the pages that follow I have tried to include the insights of people who have suffered a variety of physical and emotional pains. My prayer for you is that your faith in God will stand firm even when your world seems to be falling apart.