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Why Does God Allow Suffering?
Suffering is not an easy subject. Why would a loving God who hates evil allow suffering to His people? Bluntly put, there are two kinds of suffering.
The most difficult question to answer is the first type of suffering as mentioned about, that has nothing to do with sin. One might think that God is callous in allowing this kind of suffering. However, the contrary is true. It hurts Him more than anyone in allowing us to suffer, because He loves us. He loved us so much that He died for our sins (He suffered for us first) before we were born, and led us to His light from darkness. This love is immense! However, if through our short-term (compared to eternal life) suffering, we can become better Christians or lead others to Him through the display of our faith, He would allow it.
Although the second type of suffering is self-inflicted, it still hurts God to see us suffer. A good analogy of God’s love towards us is the parent’s love towards his or her children. Sometimes suffering is needed to bring us back to Him, much like some children need to be chastised by their parents. Does it mean that God is inflicting suffering on us then? The answer is No. There is only one thing God cannot do, and that is evil. Those who wander far away from God walk in darkness (John 3:19, 8:12), and are no longer under God's protection. (Kids who run away from home are out of protection of their parents). Once God's protection shield is lifted, Satan will have his ways.
The tragedy of the World Trade Center (WTC) involved both types of suffering, with thousands of lives being lost. However, there are tens of thousand of people dying every day also, Christians, non-Christians, natural causes, and accidents. Are we concerned about the suffering of these people and their relatives? Are we concerned about the salvation of these people too? These are not the questions that we ask on a daily basis. We seem to be startled when there are thousands of people dying together; but people die every day! It takes a tragedy like the WTC to galvanize us, to examine our own lives. Are Americans wandering far away from God (with immoral sex, crime, and abortions), that His protection shield may have been lifted from us? Are we so indulged in our financial wellbeing and proud of our economy (what the WTC symbolize), that He is allowing these suffering to bring us back to Him? (Record number of people attended Church after the tragedy, and never before did so many people say ‘God bless America’ since 9/11). Sometimes, it takes suffering to bring us back to God.
How about the people who died (not only those of the WTC, but also the thousands of people that we alluded to in the previous paragraph)? If they are Christians, their families should be comforted, for they can be certain about the salvation of their loved ones. This life on earth is short compared to the eternal life that God wants us to have. It’s better to die young than be lost eternally. To the non-Christians, we have nothing to say, other than they were given the chance to repent and come to God, but they chose not to. How about people in the WTC who did not get a chance to hear the Gospel, or some righteous (although the Bible teaches that there is none righteous, Roman 3:10) people on a remote island where the Gospel can't reach? To this, we can only refer to the book of Job. Job repeatedly questioned God about his suffering until God revealed Himself to Job, and he realized the sovereignty of God. How can clay question the potter on His decision (Roman 9:20-24). Who are we, the creation to question the creator (Job 40 and 41)? God has the right to choose whom He wants to save and who not.
Are Christians forgiven of our sins? If so, why are we still suffering for our sins? Yes, all our sins are forgiven and paid for when we become Christians and accepted Christ as our Savior. However, we still have to face the consequences of our sins on earth. For example, as much as God hates divorce, He will still forgive Christians who choose this path. Though forgiven, the divorced Christians still have to face the consequences of a broken family, especially when kids are involved. Everything we do, there are consequences that we have to face.
In conclusion, suffering helps us become better Christians with stronger faith. Suffering also helps to convert nonbelievers into Christians through the display of our faith.About the author.
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