Why do we suffer?

Sometimes in ministry, I get a question that I just can’t answer.

It might be someone, deep in anguish and grief, who wants to know why it happened?  Why are they suffering?  Why did the event occur that caused them pain?

It’s during those moments, as I sit silently, that I often shake my head and give them an honest answer:  “I don’t know.”

The truth is, we often don’t know the reason for pain and suffering.  When a loved one dies suddenly or a significant other breaks our heart or our job is suddenly eliminated, we lament and grieve, but we don’t always know the exact reason for the event.  We just know it hurts and we want the pain to stop.

Sometimes, occasionally, we’ll ask God the very same question:  Why do you allow such pain?

While I never share this in the moment of someone’s suffering, the answer to the question is thus:  God allows pain because God gave us free choice.  That means we can choose things that will hurt us and our choices often have consequences.

The very first sin, with Adam and Eve, introduced death and decay to the world.  We all feel those consequences today.  God created a paradise for us – one without death and pain – but our ancestors, being human, made a bad choice.  We’re still paying the price for that.

Why doesn’t God intervene and change it?

He did.  He came to earth, fully incarnated as Jesus, and took on all our hurts and pains.  Jesus experienced loss, struggle, illness and despair.  On the cross, he suffered unbearable pain and succumbed to the death we all do. 

He did all that so that one day there will be no more pain.  He paid for our sins – yours and mine – so that his followers will spend eternity in heaven, where pain and suffering no longer exist.

It’s tough to ponder these thoughts.  It’s easy to blame God.  However, we must look to Christ who endured the death on a cross to one day end our suffering on earth.  That is an awesome God indeed.

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