Why Does God Allow Suffering?
God tells us not to think it strange when we experience trials. He will allow these trials in our lives to conform us to His image.
I Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
Here are a few reasons God allows us to suffer.
To prepare us so that we may be able to comfort others
I remember one time I was going through a deep trial. Crying out to the Lord with thoughts of hopelessness, I prayed, “Lord, does anyone understand what I am going through?”
Years later when visiting with a friend who was going through a similar trial, I began to understand this principle. “God, You allowed that trial in my life a few years ago so that I could help her today.” Leaving that visit, I offered the Lord a few silent words of gratitude. “Thank You, Father. I now see the reason that You had for me. It was for my good and for Your glory.”
II Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted.
To prepare us for future service
I love the story of Joseph. One time my husband did a series of lessons on the life of Joseph. I will never forget those lessons. My husband repeated over and over. God was with Joseph in the pit, in Potipher’s house, in prison, and then in the Palace, but Joseph never got angry or bitter. Why would God allow him to be put in prison? Think about it. He was put in Potipher’s house to learn the ways of the upper class of Egypt; He was put in the prison to learn the ways of the common men of Egypt. In the end, he was over all men in Egypt.
Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
To give us a bigger view of God
Through the process of our Christian lives, we attend services and listen to many lessons and sermons. We read books. We go to special conferences and listen to various speakers. Many times we are not changed until we go through times of suffering, and we really begin to see the Lord and His purpose for our lives.
Job 42:5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
To build our faith
My faith continues to grow as I look back at the ways God has answered my prayers and how He has worked in the life of our family.
I will never forget the time when we started the church in Rhode Island. We were from Oklahoma, and we didn’t have to buy oil to heat our home. That first winter in New England was very difficult. We had to pay rent for a church building, pay rent on an apartment, buy oil for the church building, and buy oil for our apartment. We met one Sunday night in the church building, and it was so cold that you could see your breath. After services, my husband and I got on our knees and prayed, “Lord, we don’t want to leave, but people won’t come to a cold building. We need $1,000 to buy oil, or we won’t be able to stay. The next morning my husband came home singing and carrying a white envelope in his hand. In the envelope there was a white piece of folded paper with ten one hundred dollar bills in it. There was no return name or address on the envelope. Time after time, God has shown Himself mighty. God continues to build our faith with answered prayers.
Ex. 14: 30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. 31 And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses.
To purify our walk
There have been many times that I felt have been so burdened down with daily duties that I served the Lord out of routine and not a true love for Him. It is usually during those times that God has to send something into my life to help purify my walk with Him. He helps me to refocus on Him and His purpose for my life.
Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
To remove any pride or boasting
I think there is a tendency in all of us at times to think too highly of ourselves. Human nature sometimes causes us to assume the worst in others and the best in ourselves. God has to send things into our lives to help remove pride or boasting so that we may be more useful to Him.
II Corin. 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
To prove our real love for the Lord to Satan
I don’t really understand it, but Satan has access to heaven and the very throne of God. (Job 1:7) Satan reminds God about all of our failures. He says, “Look at Your saints; see what hypocrites they are. Judge them!” But Praise the Lord, Jesus stands at the Father’s right hand to intercede for us.”
Ps. 17:3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.