Jim Gossweiler   -  

As Christ followers in today’s world, one of the most common questions we hear is, “If God loves us, why does He permit suffering?”. The question of why God permits suffering is one that has puzzled theologians and believers for centuries. While there is no one definitive answer, the Bible offers several perspectives on this complex issue. Here are five Bible references that shed light on why God permits suffering:

Suffering as a consequence of sin:

The Bible teaches that suffering is often the result of sin, either our own or that of others. For example, in Romans 6:23, it says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Likewise, in Galatians 6:7-8, it says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” In other words, our sinful actions have consequences, and these consequences often involve suffering.

Suffering as a means of discipline:

The Bible also teaches that God may use suffering as a means of disciplining us and helping us grow in our faith. Hebrews 12:5-6 says, “And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.'” God uses suffering to shape and mold us into the people He wants us to be.

Suffering as a way to show His power:

The Bible also teaches that God may permit suffering as a way to demonstrate His power and glory. In John 9:1-3, Jesus encounters a man who was born blind, and His disciples ask Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus responds, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” but rather, “this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” This means, God may allow suffering so that He can demonstrate His power and bring glory to Himself.

Suffering as a means of testing:

The Bible also teaches that God may permit suffering as a means of testing us and strengthening our faith. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” In other words, God may use suffering to test and refine our faith, making us stronger in the process.

Suffering as a result of living in a fallen world:

Finally, the Bible teaches that suffering is sometimes simply a result of living in a fallen world. Romans 8:22 says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Bottom line is the world is broken and imperfect, and suffering is a natural consequence of this brokenness.

The Bible offers several reasons why God permits suffering, including as a consequence of sin, as a means of discipline and growth, as a way to demonstrate His power, as a means of testing and strengthening our faith, and as a result of living in a fallen world. Ultimately, the Bible teaches that God is sovereign and loving, and He works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

Are you suffering and want to talk more about God’s grace? Text “grace” to 410-936-4252.