We've all met good people who suffer terribly. When this happens to us--or to someone we love--we may wonder why God allows such pain. Others may turn away from God's love because of their anger. Some may feel that if God loved them, He would have prevented their suffering.
Recently, grief, anguish, and heartbreak has left me spent and overwhelmed. For the first time in my life, my suffering has been so great that I've felt angry with God. My faith--once so strong and unfaltering--has been shaken.
After much contemplation and soul-searching, I now realize (on a deeper level than I ever have)that God not only understands my pain, but He has already suffered it. I've spent months studying His words so that I could better love Him and understand Him. Perhaps if you feel blindsided by adversity, some of these thoughts may help.
Moses said, "I call heaven and earth to record this day gainst you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." Although God is all-powerful, He is bound by eternal laws, and one of them is agency. He allows us to choose good or evil, and with the choices we make, we either bless or harm others. Sometimes we do this intentionally; other times we offend others innocently. But offenses occur, and some of them are horrific.
"And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no." Some sorrow results from accidents: planes crash, people drive carelessly, trees blow over in the wind. Natural disasters and human error cause great suffering. We live in a world where millions suffer because of famines, earthquakes, and mortal mistakes. God does not manipulate natural phenomena or mortals to cause human suffering. He may allow us to become more humble and teachable through temporal experiences, but He does not maliciously inflict pain on anyone.
"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered." Because our bodies are imperfect, they experience disease, aging, and pain. God is not a ruthless ruler who smites us with cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. These illnesses may result from our health choices, but they may also appear randomly. We can't blame God because we or others suffer. Pain is part of mortality, but as we endure trials well, our spirits are refined and we become more like our Savior.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Suffering does result when we rebel against God. When we are paralyzed with anxiety and grief because of sinful behavior, we can repent and God will forgive us and heal us from this pain. We can control this kind of suffering and God will relieve it when seek His help.
If we feel angry with God, perhaps we can consider Job who lost everything: his children, health, wealth, friends, even the support and comfort of his wife. After his wife told Job to curse God and die and after his friends blamed him for causing his own suffering, Job declared, "I know that my redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though worms destroy my body, yet in my flesh shall I see God."
If we have friends who still love us, although our suffering is excruciating, we are not like Job, who lost everything. Yet, after knowing more loss than most mortals ever experience, Job eventually regained all that he had lost--and much more. Job reminds us that loss is temporary but that faith can lift us eternally into God's presence.
As we come to know God, we realize that He is the source of all that is good. His grace sustains and heals us. As we place our hope in Christ, we can find peace amid sorrow and beauty amid ashes.
© Carol Brown