A recent national poll asked “If you could ask God only one question and you knew He would give you an answer, what would you ask?” The most common response was, “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?”
If God is all-powerful then He should be able to eliminate evil and if God is all-good then He should want to eliminate it. Yet, here we are in a world full of evil. Doesn’t this mean that an all-powerful, all-good God can’t possibly exist?
The dilemma is that we must accept either God is not all-good or He is not all-powerful, both contradict the Bible teaching of the nature of God. What if there is a third option. Could God have a good reason for allowing evil and suffering? I think so.
What eternal purpose could evil and suffering have?
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” (Hebrews 12:7)
Suffering brings repentance. It’s one of the beautiful results of hardship – God will use it to give you an awareness of Him, which is the most valuable thing you will ever receive.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, He speaks to us in our conscience, but He shouts to us in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C. S. Lewis
We know it’s true. During trouble-free times, we are most likely to forget about God because we don’t feel like we need Him. It’s when we suffer, when we experience heartache or disappointment, that we’re more likely to turn to Him.
So God can use suffering to attract us to the greatest joy in life, an intimate relationship with Him that will continue into eternity.
2 – God can use trials to sharpen the character of His children and help them become more like Jesus Christ.
“…we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
God’s own perfect son learned obedience through suffering. How much more can we imperfect people learn obedience from what we suffer?
Have you ever heard the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going?” As uncomfortable as they are, most improvements in our character, our virtue, and our wisdom usually come through a process that involves sacrifice, difficulties, trials, and pain. That’s the hope of suffering – that God would use it to create something beautiful in the end.
Lee Stobel said, “God can use suffering… to strengthen our commitment to Him, to force us to depend on grace, to bind us together with other believers, to foster sensitivity, to discipline our minds, to spend our time wisely, to stretch our hope, to cause us to know Christ better and deeper, to make us long for truth, to lead us to repentance form sin, to teach us to give thanks in times of sorrow, to increase our faith, to strengthen our character, and on and on and on.”
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
God wants to fulfill this promise in our life. In Genesis, there’s an account of a man named Joseph, who experienced frustratingly unjust events, but God used those events to bring about good. Joseph’s words: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 5:20). God’s promise is if you are committed to God, He will bring good out of your pain and trials.
Read more God Questions.