Does God allow suffering?
Does God allow suffering? In Jesus’ day, people assumed that those who suffered must have brought it on themselves because of their wickedness, or because of something they had done. This is still a common belief today.
But Jesus told them, “No, they were not worse sinners than anyone else because they suffered that way.” He went on to say, “But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (See Luke 13:1-5). Jesus was telling them that the real reason for suffering in this world is the evil that was brought into the world at the beginning.
God did not create robots. He created people who could choose to love and obey him. Sin came into the world because our first parents exercised that free will given to them by God, and chose disobedience over love.
Sin is like a virus that infects everything. With sin has come misery, suffering, pain, sorrow and death. God did not bring this into the world; it was an inevitable result of sin and disobedience, for now Satan and his evil reigned over the world.
The wonderful news of the gospel is that Jesus has completed this work, and that the problems of this world will one day vanish. “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4,5).
The greatest suffering the world will ever know is the suffering that Jesus endured to rescue us and claim us back for God—to pay the price for the disobedience of the human race.
This is why we must choose to accept Jesus as our Saviour: we are still beings with a free choice. And even when we have accepted the salvation freely offered to us, while we are still in this world, there will be suffering and pain, sadness and grief.
We can have confidence that Jesus has won the war, and that “those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness” (Isaiah 51:11).
After all the troubles he endured in the cause of the Gospel, the apostle Paul could say: “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor things present or things to come, nor principalities or powers, nor any other created thing is able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). It will be the same for us.
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