Why Does God Allow Suffering?

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The I can remember a lady years ago who gave up her faith in God because her son was killed by a train on a snowy night. She kept saying to me, "How could God allow this to happen? If there is a God, he is either indifferent to us or just doesn't care." I am reminded of another story of a young grain farmer who spent his last dollars on seed for a crop which was wiped out by drought and hail. He missed church for 3 months blaming it on God. The preacher came and said to him, "Son, God knows that, while it is impossible to grow good grain with a drought, it is also impossible to grow good men without a drought. God's object is to grow men not grain!"

Insurance policies usually have a clause describing "acts of God". These are all the natural disasters that inflict pain and suffering on man. Why does God always get a bad rap when thinks go bad and we praise ourselves when things go good? When we get a promotion, it is because of our hard work, education and superior intellect. When we get fired, we are under the curse of God.

There are many positive aspects of suffering that we overlook. Proverbs 30:8 "Give me neither poverty nor riches...Lest I be full and deny thee and say, who is the Lord' Or lest I be in want and steal and profane the name of my God". It is my judgment that Canadians are rarely in "need". (Most of us suffer from a serious case of "want", however) We are so rich and well fed that most of us have said, "who is the Lord?" If calamity occurs in our life, it can bring us back to our sense of what is really important and what is not. Diamonds must be treated roughly to make them shine. The more they are cut, pounded and ground, the more they sparkle!

Someone said, "If life is a bowl of cherries, why am I always down in the pits?" Well we pray our hardest when we are in the pits don't we. We've all heard of people who suddenly "get spiritual" and uncharacteristically pray to a God they have ignored when tragedy strikes. One man said after suffering a lengthy debilitating injury, "I've learned more about praying to God in these last 6 weeks than in 40 years as a Christian." 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." People who have endured hardship are God's healing messengers when others experience the same!

God allows suffering because the planet earth is not man's final eternal home. "If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth." He are earth bound with a heavenly destination. The suffering of this world makes us long for our eternal dwelling with God in the heavens. Even with all our prosperity in Canada, heaven is beyond our wildest dreams! "God is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all we ask or think." Ephesians 3:20 Suffering in this life helps us focus on and long for the next!

We need to remember that we live in a physical world with physical laws. We stub our toes, cut our fingers, break our legs, catch the flu, get into car accidents. Some things just happen by the very nature of our physical existence. No one is to blame. But if blame is to be laid, let's not rule out the actions of the Devil, who afflicted Job with great tribulation, tempted Jesus to sin, and prowls about like a lion seeking someone to devour! If you want to blame suffering on someone, why blame the loving God who asks us to "cast all our anxiety on Him for He cares for you" and let the devil get off scott free?

Some of the choicest and beautiful wood is from trees that are exposed to regular violent storms. Outside they look knurled and worn, but inside is a cabinet makers delight! May the "Great Carpenter" make me into fine furniture for his Palace!

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