If God is this all-good, all-powerful being, doesn’t he have the resources to prevent evil and suffering? People who really study and understand the Bible tell us that without the freedom to do the wrong things, we would be like robots. While God does have the power to prevent suffering, he has created us with the freedom of choice. We can obey him and live by faith doing good things, or we can disobey and do evil and thus suffer consequences of our evil actions. And others often suffer from our evil actions as well. That is what has happened at Columbine High School, other schools and now New York City and Washington D.C.
Maybe the question we should ask is, “Is there any purpose to our suffering?” The Bible shares at least four results from suffering.
We See How Devastating Evil Can Be
When we witness evil in the form of terrible crimes or even when we see a fellow student being teased or abused we are reminded of how devastating evil can be to the human heart and soul. It is a reminder to seek what is good and to seek God.
It Helps Develop Character
Paul tells us in Romans 5 that suffering helps us to endure, and endurance builds character. Character is the ability to handle tough situations and to help others who are going through similar suffering.
To Get Our Attention
Sometimes when we are doing the wrong things our Heavenly Father uses suffering to get our attention. He wants to remove everything from our lives that keeps us from walking close to him in a love – faith relationship. So the suffering, as a result of wrong behavior, brings us closer to him or it can make us angry and push us away.
When you think of it, it’s silly to get angry with God when we suffer as a direct result of our own behavior. But sometimes suffering is not our fault, what then?
To Help Us Understand God
There will be times when God allows us to suffer so we can understand how much he is in control and that he is able to work in peoples’ lives. Jesus seemed drawn like a magnet to human grief, sorrow and suffering. God feels hurt and compassion when we suffer, his Spirit works to comfort us and to heal us. Since Christ suffered on the cross for our sins, he understands and cares.
Even if we cannot understand the exact whys behind our suffering we can still receive comfort and strength from a God who really understands and cares about us (2 Corinthians 1).