How can God allow suffering?

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering…” Isaiah 53:3

A child lies limp in the dirt in Africa, claimed by starvation. A loved one gets cancer, or dies prematurely. Can’t God stop the suffering? This is a difficult question to answer fully, but there are some things we can say. Suffering was never God’s desired plan for mankind. Indeed, God created man to enjoy a world without pain or tears, living in perfect harmony with one another, their environment, and with God.

Then disaster. Adam and Eve disobey God, usurping His rightful rule over their lives. Creation is thrown into dysfunction, and suffering enters the world. Eve will give birth in pain, and Adam’s tending the garden is replaced by “painful toil”. The environment also suffers, the land now producing thorns and weeds.

God then cannot be blamed for suffering; man is responsible for the mess the world is in.

However, God uses suffering. When we suffer, we are reminded of our humanness, our frailty, and our need for God. Suffering is a reminder that things are not right; just as a toothache indicates a bad tooth. No one enjoys pain, but it can lead us to something profoundly healthy – to cast ourselves on God. God can humble and mould us as learn to submit to His loving rule over our lives. He wants us to place ourselves under His care. Pain can lead us to receive His offer of forgiveness, through the death of Jesus.

In the mean time, God weeps with us. He knows about pain. He Himself has suffered. God suffered as he determines that His Son must die on a cross. God’s Son Jesus wept for us, and then endured the agony of the judgement of God on the cross.

So God understands. One day he will eliminate all suffering and pain, and establish a new heavens and a new earth, a place of restored harmony.

Until then, lets trust in the one who suffered upon a cross for us.

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering…” Isaiah 53:3

If we accept Christ as our God and Saviour, and seek His forgiveness, He offers eternal life. If we reject Him, he will condemn us.

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