Question: Why does God allow suffering? Doesn’t He care about us?
Answer: God certainly does care! It hurts Him to see us suffer as a result of our own wrong choices or the wrong choices and actions of others.
The Bible tells us, “As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear [reverence] Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”1
Jesus, too, can sympathize with our weaknesses, because He was “tempted in every way, just as we are.”2 He certainly knows what it’s like to suffer, because He was tortured and then crucified for the sins of the world.
Also, the Bible promises that someday all the suffering will come to an end for those who love God. In heaven, God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”3 In the meantime, we should remember that there are benefits to be derived from suffering. For example, it often brings out the sweetness and goodness in people. For those who do not allow themselves to become embittered or hardened by them, sorrow, sacrifice, and sadness can bring out the best: love, tenderness, and concern for others. The Bible says, “We comfort others with the comfort with which we ourselvesare comforted by God.”4 If we have found God’s love in Jesus, it gives us the desire to share that answer and that love with others, so He can ease their sufferings and help them solve their problems too.
Though we can understand many of the reasons for suffering through reading God’s Word, we probably won’t know all the answers to this persistent question until we get to heaven. God’s ways are not our ways, and there are some things we won’t understand until we see things as God sees them.5 Fitting illustration of this was given by Dr. Handley Moule (1841–1920) when he visited a coalmine immediately after a terribleunderground explosion that claimed the lives of the miners inside. At the entrance to the mine was a large crowd that included many of the miners’ wives, children, parents, other relatives, and closest friends.
“It is very difficult for us to understand why God should let such an awful tragedy happen,” he told the grieving crowd, “but I have at home an old bookmark given me by my mother, which I think about at such times. The bookmark is embroidered in silk, and when I look at the wrong side of it, I see nothing but a tangled mass of threads. It looks like a big mistake. One would think that whoever made it didn’t know what she was doing. But when I turn it over and look at the other side, I see there, embroidered beautifully, the words ‘GOD IS LOVE.’ We are looking at this tragedy today from the wrong side. Someday we shall view it from another standpoint, and we shall understand.”
The Bible also tells us, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”6 With time our suffering takes on a new perspective. Through it we becomea little wiser and a little more compassionate toward others who are suffering.
God has a purpose for everything He allows to happen to us, even though we may not always see it right away. We just have to trust God that if we don’t understand now, we will later. And despiteour limited knowledge and understanding of some things, there is one thing we can be sure of, and that is His unfailing love.
We will at times be in pain or grieve, but thank God, we are not left hopeless and helpless. “For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, … nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.”7
1. Psalm 103:13–14
2. Hebrews 4:15 NIV
3. Revelation 21:4
4. 2 Corinthians 1:4
5. Isaiah 55:8–9
6. Psalm 30:5
7. Romans 8:38–39