Why We Suffer
Lately it seems the newspaper headlines are all tragic and bleak. Our nation has suffered much loss from events like Hurricane Sandy, the Boston bombing, the Aurora theater shooting, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, tornados in Moore, Oklahoma, the wildfires in Colorado, our recent plant explosions in Geismar and Donaldsonville, and so many others. Oftentimes after tragedies many people ask themselves, “Why did God allow this?”
The answer, to be quite honest, is that we really don’t know why. The Bible tells us that the secret things belong to the Lord. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29). For centuries, people have asked this question and searched for an answer, dating back to the Old Testament when Job endured much suffering and cried out,” I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me.” (Job 10:2). Just as God did not fully explain to Job why he allowed Job to suffer, He still does not make known to us why we suffer.
However, we have been warned since Biblical times that we would suffer. Jesus said in this world, “You will have suffering in this world.” (John 16:33). So your next question may be, “Why didn’t God create a peaceful world with no suffering?” The answer is … he did. He created the perfect world in the Garden of Eden. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31).
In the Garden of Eden, the Father, Son and Spirit existed in perfect love. God wanted us as human beings to experience love. But love cannot be forced. Love must be chosen and God gave us the free will to choose whether to love him. Love always involves a choice. Being programmed, like a robot, to “feel” love isn’t sincere or real.
Despite living in a creation where love between Creator and creature was sincere and authentic, we rejected and rebelled against God and became separate from God’s love. This altered the natural order of God’s creation and allowed tragedy and suffering to enter the world.
As a result, God does not always spare us from suffering. We are living in a sinful world and because of free will, and people are choosing to reject God and accept evil. But God promises that he will use our misgivings and tragedy to our good in the end. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
For anyone suffering due to recent tragedy, heartbreak, sorrow, or any other unfortunate events, I pray that God will give you peace. I wish I could tell you why God allows these events to happen. I cannot. His Holy Scriptures tell us that there are things that we are just not supposed to understand. I know this does not cure our curiosity. However, take comfort in these words from our Lord and Savior “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. But be courageous! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33).