I believe there are three biblical answers to the Why suffering? question.
We live in a fallen world, with human beings who have a sin nature from birth. Thus we have natural disasters, disease, weaknesses, human failings and frailties, death (the last enemy), and people sinning against each other. Evil exists. Christians, as dwellers in this world, are touched by these things as are everyone else.
My husband and I have been to other countries as members of mission teams. I am struck every time I visit non-American Christians, at how calmly and patiently they take suffering in stride. Suffering is viewed as a normal part of life everywhere except in the United States. Here, we have this expectation that life should be perfect. We are the only people in the world that have that expectation, as far as I can tell. It is a flaw of our culture and of the American Church, which fosters that expectation among American Christians.
I do not believe that God ordains specific disasters and the other results of living in a fallen world for us individually. He does not need to; the result of fallenness touches everyone randomly. So the question becomes, “Why does God not intervene and prevent the result of fallenness from touching everyone?”
Sometimes God does intervene. God sends rain on the just and unjust.
God did intervene in this world by being born in a stable 2000 years ago, living a sinless life, and going about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil. Then He took the punishment for sin on Himself so that we can be forgiven and reborn with new life, and was raised from the dead and thereby defeated all the power of the enemy. He then, before He ascended into heaven, charged us to do as we had seen Him doing: making disciples, doing good, and healing all who were oppressed of the devil. Then He poured out His Spirit on the Church, to equip us for that which He had called us.
Sometimes I wonder if God doesn’t intervene more because He has charged us with relieving the suffering of others: we are His hands and feet in the world now. We are His body. If every Christian lived as selflessly as Mother Teresa, what impact would that have on the random result of fallenness?
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testing and the education of life
what my cat taught me about testing, and trusting
why does God test man, part two
we are the clay
when we suffer: a warning
help when we hurt
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the poetry of drawing near
hearts wounded by suffering
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pride: the hidden problem with hardness
portrait of a yielded heart
the poetry of a yielded heart
comfort when we suffer
taking comfort: psalm 42
the poetry of taking comfort
comfort, comfort, o my people
comfort as a mother comforts
a rabbit trail
the joy of intimacy
the poetry of intimacy
God’s comforting presence
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christians and suffering
back from the abyss