How can a good God allow people to suffer?
The answer is precisely found in the question. Because He is good, He allows pain and suffering in our lives. In the moment, the suffering may seem unbearable, unfair and certainly untimely. It is natural to hurt, to ask hard questions, to even be angry or feel betrayed. But God sees beyond the moment. He desires our growth, but mostly our love and trust. Suffering allows the raw, painful side of life to expose who we really are and who we trust with our lives. Author and philosopher C.S. Lewis writes, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”. Suffering has a way to wake us up to what is important.
God doesn’t enjoy our suffering any more than parents enjoy watching their children suffer. It’s like this: Students take tests to determine how well they have studied and learned the subject. Athletes compete in a game to test whether they are more skilled than their opponent. So it is with God. He allows pain and suffering in life as opportunities to strengthen our genuine faith in His goodness and His purpose for our lives.
None of us who know Ben and Susie take this situation lightly. Nor are we in denial, happily going along as if all will be well. No, we are scared and sad and begging God for mercy and healing; yet as Jesus said on His way to the cross, “not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). We trust His plan and His means even if we don’t understand the journey. He knows the big picture while we only have a temporary snapshot. The only way we can walk this path with the Thomas family is by mutually understanding that God’s pain and suffering on the cross granted us eternal life and forgiveness, hope, power, and peace in all circumstances...forever. We reach up with the Thomas family, clinging to the goodness of God by faith, proclaiming, “Lord, we trust You.”
The Psalmist David wrote, “It is good that I have been afflicted that I might learn Thy statutes” (Psalm 119:71). We don’t have to wait for hardship and affliction to look up to God. The time is now! Join with us in believing that Christ’s death paid the penalty for all of our sins and be free to love and serve Him with your life. Accept His gift and enter into the “fellowship of His sufferings” (Philippians 3:9-10) on behalf of Ben and Susie Thomas. Cindy White, Athletes in Action
To learn more about God and suffering, please consider:
- The book of Job in the Old Testament
- The life of Joseph in the Old Testament (Genesis)
- The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
- Three Philosophies of Life by Peter Kreeft
- Where is God when it Hurts by Philip Yancey
If you have more questions or want to talk with someone about pain and suffering, feel free to contact Athletes in Action or Cindy.White@athletesinaction.org