How can God allow Suffering?
This question is potentially one of the biggest barriers for people following Jesus and one of the biggest reasons why many stop following Jesus. So should we avoid this question? No! It is important that we wrestle with these questions and that we don’t feel guilty by having these doubts. Growing up, I always felt guilty if doubts or questions about God entered my mind but when I started to explore these questions in the bible, I found answers that made me more confident of God’s goodness and plan. When it comes to suffering John Piper says this :
“I like to distinguish between what I call micro reasons for why people suffer and macro reasons for why there’s suffering in the world. When it comes to micro reasons, we usually don’t have answers. Why this suffering? Why this person? Why
this time? When we’re talking about those micro reasons, we usually don’t know exactly why. The Bible doesn’t address the situation of each person. When it comes to macro reasons for why there is suffering in the world, the Bible is rich with helpfulness. It’s explicitly intended to be helpful for us at the macro level.”
On Saturday, I attempted to explain one of the macro reasons for suffering (see video below)
That God is on the throne, he sees the bigger picture and that God can turn our suffering for good!
Looking at the unfolding story of Joseph we saw how he was sold into slavery and ended up in Egypt. Through the rest of the story, it’s clear that God is with Joseph and has given him this great ability to interpret dreams. The most important dream he interpreted was the king’s as he was able to advise that a severe famine was coming. His advice saved many lives including his own family. What stood out to me was how in the last few chapters of Genesis, Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt for help and eventually discover that Joseph is still alive and in this position of power. They are worried he is going to kill them but in Genesis 50:20, Joseph says this :
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many
people should be kept alive as they are today.”
This truth is found throughout the whole bible.
Romans 8:28 – “And we know that for those who love God all things (including suffering) work together for good.”
James 1:2 – “Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds”. We can have joy in our suffering because God is turning it for our good. God uses our suffering to make us more like Jesus.
Ultimately, we see this truth in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Pharisees had a plan to kill Jesus and destroy his followers but their plan instead started a worldwide movement, sending the Gospel further and wider than it had ever gone before. A movement that is still growing today and is changing the course of millions of lives! God can turn suffering for our good. I don’t know exactly how the covid-19 pandemic has affected you and I hope this blog doesn’t belittle your suffering or pain but I want to encourage you to spend some time with God today and ask him to open your eyes to how he is turning this pandemic for our good.
Some helpful links on suffering;