Monday, 8 June 2015

Why Does God Cause Suffering and Pain?

The rules of life and bonds of sorrow

In reality are the one manifestation

Before realizing the ultimate truth 
How can then one attain liberation? 
(Ghalib) 

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There comes a time that when you simply give up. It can be a break-up, death of a loved one, financial troubles, or physical abuse. 

At this point, no inspirational song, motivational quote, or Bible verse seems to make sense.


Every human being at least once in his life shouts out 'My God My God, why have you forsaken me?'


The question is: Why does a loving God who is also my father leaves me in so much pain?






4 Possible Answers

In this article, I will not be discussing whether God literally causes pain and suffering to human beings or whether humans face the consequence of their own decisions made out of free will. 

Regardless of which position you may hold, the Bible gives 4 major reasons as to why humans beings (especially those who believe in God) suffer:

1-God wants to test our faith (as in the story of Job)

2-God punishes us for our sins (for e.g. God made the Israelites wander in the desert for 40 years because they disobeyed Him)

3-God us to realize our dependence on him (When Paul prayed to God to remove his suffering, He replied "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" 2 Corinthians 12:9)

4-To work out a bigger purpose (In the story of Joseph, we learn that all the bad things that happened to Joseph ultimately worked in the favor of his family, and all of Egypt as well-Genesis 45:7)


What We Learn from Job's Story

But as I said before, when we are going through an actual problem, theology is the last thing we need to console us. We want real answers. 

When we read the book of Job, we find that Job never learns why he was going through all the hardships. He lost his wealth and his children died. 

Only us, the readers know what is going on, but Job is clueless. However, he does learn two things:

  1. God continues to speak to him in his sufferings  
At the end of the book of Job (chapter 38), God himself meets his distressed believers. This shows that God himself is the ultimate answer to our suffering; He is not the cause of it

  2. As a man, Job can't possibly fathom how God works in the universe   

In a series of poetic questions, God makes Job realize that he hardly knows anything about the natural world, so what does right does he have to question how God works out His plans? Will he even understand?

Why Did Jesus Suffer?

Perhaps the greatest proof of the fact that human beings don't know how God works is the death of Jesus Christ itself.

Why should God's beloved die in such a hideous manner?

He surely didn't commit a sin, he was fully dependent on his Father, and God had already tested him during the 40 days and 40 nights of fasting. 

Even his disciples had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that their Lord and Master was crucified. 

For non-Christians the very idea of God becoming a man and then dying a criminal's death is at best foolish and at worst blasphemous. 

But we know that without the death of Jesus Christ, there would have been no salvation and no forgiveness of sins of the world. In other words, suffering was necessary to save the world. 

This also teaches us that God is not alien to our problems; He knows what it feels like when it hurts, when friends let you down, when authorities harass you, when people conspire against you, and when you are publicly humiliated. 

The Positive Side of Suffering

All the information sums up as follows: 

Even though we don't know why we suffer, we know that a) God knows what we going through and b) He will ultimately work out a greater purpose. 1 Corinthians 10:13 teaches us:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it

What an assurance!

And we also know that God not only speaks to us through His word (the Bible) but also through His Spirit that lives in us. 

Christianity teaches a relationship with God which is as real as any of your worldly relations. So, if haven't already done so, accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior today. That will definitely help you make sense of what you are suffering at the moment. 


Recommended Reading:

  • The Shack by William P. Young
  • Where is God when it Hurts? by Philip Yancey


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