“If God loves you, then why do bad things happen to you?” People near us often ask this question when we encounter adversity. Sometimes, even we have doubts. “If God is real, where is He when I am suffering?”
We have been told that God is good, that all good blessings come from Him, that He showers blessings upon those whom He loves, and so on. However, when troubles come we forget where God is and what His role is in these trying times.
We know that God is good- there is no doubt. The Bible tells us that God is trustworthy, God does not change, and every good gift is from above. But it is equally true that humans go through troubles, trials, and suffering. Christian life is not absent of pain and suffering. In fact, if we look at the lives of the disciples, each one of them went through hardships. God’s people- though God loves them so much- do suffer. It seems contradicting; if the God of the universe loves us, then why does He allow suffering?
We need to answer a few questions about suffering: What is the source of suffering? Why are we experiencing it? What should our attitude be when we suffer?
Consider the example of Job in the Bible. He was a righteous man who was close with the Lord, yet his life was full of suffering. God, our Creator, loves us, but this does not mean humans will not suffer.
We suffer due to various reasons. The first is our own wrongdoings. When we sin, we bear the consequence of our actions. For instance, if I take drugs, it would harm my physical body. I would suffer because of my own choice. Second, we suffer because of someone else’s action. Sometimes the decisions made by others, not us, will cause us to suffer. For example, there was a recently bombing in our city. It killed two innocent people who happened to be near the bomb. The innocent people and their families suffered because someone else placed the explosives. Third, we suffer because of our enemy, the devil. The classic example is Job. Job personally did nothing to cause suffering, but Satan tested his faith. Job’s family members died, and Job suffered from disease. Job lost everything. All this suffering came from Satan. Finally, sometimes we suffer because God is testing our faith. God disciplines us, so sometimes suffering is a means for our correction. God never wants for us to suffer, but out of love he tests us. Hebrews 12:6 says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
Next time you suffer, analyze the source of your suffering: Is it me? Did I cause it? Is it someone else? Is it Satan? Is it God? Whatever the source of our suffering may be, our comfort comes from the Lord. If we suffer because of our own sin, then we need to repent (1 John 1: 9). If it is because of another person’s sin or from Satan, we need to draw near to God- He is our strength and comfort. If it is God chastening us, we need to learn the lesson God is teaching us, and grow closer to Him.
Often, we become bitter when we experience suffering. Let suffering make us a better person not a bitter person. Christian life is full of suffering and hardship. But be encouraged- the creator of the universe is our refuge. He is our strength when we are weak. We draw our comfort from Him alone.
A few months ago, I met a lady whose son has mild seizures. She was saying, “If God loves me, He must heal my son.” She was going through so much pain and bitterness against God. I prayed with her and tried to put her focus back on God rather than her suffering. I tried to comfort her by saying, “I do not know the reason why your son has this sickness, but I do know that through this situation you can draw closer to God and increase your faith by trusting in Him.” God is a healer, but we cannot force him to act. God loves us, but we cannot demand Him to do what we think is right for us. However, even in the midst of hardship, God is peace. Deep in our hearts we can feel His presence and find joy from it. We can learn the lessons that God is teaching us even through adversity. Through it all, we need to be thankful and praise Him (Philippians 4:6).
When we suffer, it is not always just one incident at a time. There can be a series of hardships that may affect our lives, but we can still trust that God will use these moments for His glory. Romans 8:28 reads, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Last week, my family experienced several troubles all at once. First, my father had to undergo prostate surgery. Additionally, our Bible school and water factory were vandalized. Lastly, the pastor whom we partnered with, and whom my husband mentored for a long time, passed away suddenly at the young age of thirty-nine. Things became harder one after another. It was easy to ask, ‘If God is good, why is there so much pain and hardship?’ But instead, we put all of our worries in God’s hands and trusted that He is in control. Whatever He does, He does the best.
Today, my father is recovering, and our Bible school and water factory will need a lot of work to be restored. The young family of our partner is grieving, but we can testify that “our redeemer lives” (Job 19:25). The world is a temporary place where suffering is inevitable, but we are citizens of that place where there are no tears and no pain (Revelation 21:4). Why should we focus on temporary pain and suffering that we experience as sojourners when we can instead look ahead to the place where we will live for eternity. Let suffering build us, not break us. Let us not doubt our Father. His love is so deep that it cannot be measured, and nothing can separate us from it. Instead, let us learn from our hardships, pains, troubles, and suffering to become better, stronger and more joyful people.
Article Written by: Ramila Karmacharya