Note: All Scripture quotations found in this article are from the text of the Authorized King James Version of the Bible.
Today many people suffer in this world. People suffer with sorrow, sickness, pain and death. The question is, why does God allow people to suffer? There was a time on this earth when no one suffered. This time was before the fall of Adam and Eve. Before they ate of the fruit of the tree, there was so sorrow, pain, sickness or death because everything was created perfect.
Sorrow entered the world when man rebelled against God in Genesis 3:6-7. When Adam and Eve sinned against God the reaped the consequences of sin. Therefore the pain, death, suffering, sorrow and sickness is not the fault of God, rather man's sin.
Genesis 3:16 "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
The fact is, we all suffer and die because we are sinners. We all sin and we are all born with sin nature because of the fall of Adam and Eve.
Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"
Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"
God allows suffering now because He wants us to know that there is a separation between Him and us because of sin. Because our sin, we are headed for eternal punishment in an everlasting Hell, unless we go to God's Son for the cure. The cure is the Blood of Jesus Christ and God wants to save you. God does not want anyone to go to Hell and burn. If it was not for suffering and sorrow then we would not go to God for salvation. It is a known fact that sometimes people only look toward God when there is no where else to look. In the Bible, a leper and a blind man looked to Jesus because of their illnesses.
Matthew 8:2 "And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean."
Luke 18:35 "And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:"
Sometimes the death of someone will bring many others to Jesus Christ. A perfect example would be Lazarus in the Bible. Lazarus' sickness was for the glory of God according to John 11:2-4. It was for the glory of God because many came to Jesus Christ because they saw Jesus Christ raise Lazarus from the dead.
John 11:45 "Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him."
John 12:11 "Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus."
God is in complete control, rather we know it or not. If it was not for Lazarus' death those Jews would have never came to Jesus Christ because before there hearts were hardened. Jesus could of healed Lazarus when he was sick, but did not because He knew the outcome of the people seeing Him raise Lazarus from the dead(John 11:6). Suffering always has a purpose and a lot of the times it is showing people that they need Jesus Christ.
Some Christians suffer because they rebel against God. As Christians we should be obedient to God's word and bring honor to Jesus Christ. Failure to do so can bring the chastisement of God. God does not chastise His children because He hates them, rather He chastises us because He loves us and wants us to do right. God is our heavenly Father and just like any father, He will correct us when we do wrong.
Hebrews 12:6 "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."
Revelation 3:19 "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."
Sometimes Christians can avoid the chastisement of God by judging themselves instead of ignoring their sin. We told not to sin, but if we do sin we are commanded to confess and repent of our sins. Suffering sometimes comes when a Christian fails to repent of sins.
1 Corinthians 11:31 "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."
1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
The Bible tells us that sometimes a Christian will suffer FOR Christ. Christians who deny themselves and follow the Lord will suffer for the Lord. Suffering for Jesus Christ pays in the end though because if we suffer for Him then we will reign with Him when He comes back in the Millennium. We will receive crowns at the Judgment Seat of Christ if we live for God (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10, 1 Cor. 9:24-27).
2 Timothy 3:12 "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
2 Timothy 2:12 "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:"
Luke 9:23 "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
When one lives for Christ, the world will persecute them just like they did Jesus Christ when He was on the earth. When we suffer for Christ, we should count it as honor. Like the Apostles, we should rejoice when we get the honor to suffer for our Saviour. If you suffer for God count it as a blessing because you will receive a reward in Heaven for your suffering (1 Peter 4:12-16).
Acts 5:41 "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."
1 Peter 2:19 "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:"
Matthew 5:12 "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
It is better to suffer for God instead of enjoying sin now because the pleasure for sin is only temporary, but suffering for God leads to eternal happiness. The suffering for a Christian only lasts for awhile, but after this life the Christian will reap rewards and eternal joy.
Hebrews 11:25 "Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;"
Romans 8:18 "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
1 Peter 5:10 "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."
I am sure some are wondering if suffering is always because of disobedience. Pain and suffering is not always because of sin, so the question is why does God allow it? The false faith healers of today are wrong for believing Christians suffer because they have little faith. Paul the Apostle had much faith, but suffered all his life. God allowed Paul to have a thorn in his flesh to keep Paul humble and looking to God. Paul's thorn in the flesh was probably eye trouble (Galatians 4:14-15, Joshua 23:13, Numbers 33:55).
2 Corinthians 12:7 "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure."
Suffering will make Christians stronger. One will see how dedicated a Christian is when that Christian suffers and continues to live for God and looks to God for help. As Christians we should be long suffering.
2 Timothy 2:3 "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."
Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,"
Suffering teaches Christians patience. The perfect example of Christian suffering is found in the book of Job. Job lost all his animals, family and health, but in the end God restored everything back to him twice as much as he originally had because Job did not give up on God and was patient (Job 2:10, 42:10).
Romans 5:3 "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;"
When we suffer it puts us in the position to be a bigger help to others. After we suffer through something we can help those who are suffering what we already went through. Suffering allows us to be able to know what to say to others to comfort them when they go through the same things.
2 Corinthians 1:3 "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
Sometimes people suffer to learn humility and patience. Other times God may be making us stronger or getting us ready so that we can help others. The fact is, God knows what is best and He is never wrong. We should give Him glory in the good times and even in the bad.
Psalms 119:71 "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes."
Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
If you are lost and reading this, I have good news for you. The good news is that Jesus Christ suffered and died for our sins, was buried and rose again on the third day by the power of God(1 Cor. 15:3-4). If you trust Him to save you then you will receive eternal life (1 John 5:13). Not only will you be saved from a burning Hell, but your home will be in Heaven after you die. In Heaven, there is no more sorrow, suffering, tears, pain or death. God does not want you to go to Hell (2 Peter 3:9). God wants you to trust His Son, Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. I hope that you do trust the Lord Jesus Christ today, so that you will have a home in Heaven after you die (Romans 10:9-13).
Revelation 21:4 "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."