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I grew up thinking everything that happened to me or around me, good or bad, was ordained by the hand of God. I remember sitting in funerals of friends taken too soon and being told it was God’s will. I’ve sat at the dinner table with well-meaning people who tried to explain away all the bad from my childhood or teen experiences. I was promised it all happened for a reason; God allowed it so He could later use it to help others.
And if I am totally honest, I have repeated those same lines to people hurting and suffering. I didn’t know what to say to my friend suffering with cancer, so I comforted by telling her God allowed the cancer so His glory could be shown. I whispered similar words to my friend who was barren for almost a decade, telling her God was allowing the suffering to draw her to a deeper faith.
The topic of suffering is one that makes many cringe and others run for the hills. I’m finding it is one of the hardest subjects to discuss with skeptics and believers alike. The vastness of this subject is so much that this post has been in the draft box for some time. (Do I really know enough to even approach this topic?) It appears to be one of the biggest kinks in the proverbial apologetic armor. And I am not ashamed to say I don’t understand it all, but I think we must be careful about what we say when we are addressing the question, Does God allow suffering?
In our desire to give an answer, we make God the cause and center of hurt and pain when He truly is not. In our attempt to lend meaning, we too often condense complex biblical concepts into sentence long platitudes that do more harm than good. While trying to explain away the bad, we actually miss God’s goodness.
This is not exhaustive but here’s a few things I encourage you to meditate on when hardships come (and they will):
- God’s character. He is a good and perfect Father. Every good and perfect gift is from above. His character doesn’t change. Throughout the Word, this character trait is portrayed over and over. He wants the best for us. (James 1:17)
- Satan’s character. Scripture tell us he is a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10) If the enemy can’t stop you, He will make you question God’s character and heart. From the beginning, he has always tried to distort our relationship. (Did He really say? Genesis 3:1)
- Man’s sin. We are in a fallen and broken world. What once was created as perfect by God’s hands, is now corrupted. That corruption brings death, disease and destruction. It brings suffering.
- God’s redemption. Romans 8:28 reminds us that God works to accomplish what is good for His people. No where are we told we will be spared suffering, however, God can still restore any circumstance caused by our sin. He took a people separated from Him by sin, a seemingly hopeless scenario, and redeemed us through the blood of Jesus.
There is a post I find is beautifully penned on this subject and possibly explains more about when God is the storm and when He is not. You can read it here. There is simply too much information to discuss in one post. Maybe it’s another series, I don’t know. I have not even discussed, briefly, the concept of free will, sovereignty, partnering with God etc. Over the past month, God has revealed a side of Himself I simply cannot ignore. I want to go deeper and learn of the sweet mysteries He, only, can reveal.
A great book I recommend is God is Good by Bill Johnson. You can purchase through this link: