Question Time – Why Does God Allow Suffering?


Why Does God Allow Suffering?


This is a question that is asked all over the world by believers and atheists alike, sometimes by those who are seeking to blame God and at other times, by those who genuinely wonder why some individuals seem to bear heavy burdens, maybe throughout the whole of their lives.

The answer must, in the final analysis, be traced back to original sin in the Garden of Eden. When the fall occurred the principle of death and corruption was introduced. Thus, man is a fallen creature, and as sin abounds so the inevitable result is disease, death and catastrophe throughout the world. Sometimes the burden of this is felt disproportionately by individuals with whom we cannot but sincerely sympathize.

For the believer the Scriptures give great comfort through the midst of the most severe testings and trials. The Lord Jesus said, ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; 1 have overcome the world’, John 16. 33. The resources of the believer include the Great High Priest who is touched fully by the extremity of anything that we can experience, Heb. 4. 15. He is fully qualified for this as He experienced everything we ever could, including the most painful of deaths. To further substantiate this, Isaiah 53. 4 was fulfilled by the Lord for He Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses, Matt. 8. 17. In other words, He placed Himself under the burden of all that the people experienced. This truth is revealed further in relation to Paul’s persecution of the early New Testament saints, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?’ Acts 9. 4. All the sufferings the saints passed through were keenly felt by Him. It was true of them as it was of Israel in an earlier day, ‘In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old’, Isa. 63. 9.

The death of Lazarus further illustrates His compassion and care. Firstly, if the family concerned could not see the purpose of it all, in the midst of their sorrow the Lord says, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby’, John 11. 4. Oh that in the midst of our sufferings we could see this! Secondly, the Lord genuinely enters into their sorrow as only He fully could, for ‘Jesus wept’, v. 33. He had the power to solve the problem, but the saints were still asked to pass through the vale of sorrow and suffering, for it is only in these circumstances that His love and compassion can be fully experienced.

Finally, it is helpful to put the whole of this difficult question in the eternal perspective, ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory’, 2 Cor. 4. 17. This verse reminds us firstly, that whatever the believer passes through here, it is only light compared with the weight of glory to follow, and secondly, it is but for a moment compared with eternity.

This answer is given out of a deep sense of inadequacy; however if we are unqualified to answer, we can refer the reader to the One who is fully qualified! ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness’, 2 Cor. 12. 9.


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