Why Does God Allow Suffering

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This is my answer to the question Why does God allow suffering.

Submitted: December 27, 2011

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Submitted: December 27, 2011

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Legolas Greenleaf

 

A Reason for Suffering

 

 

“Why does your god allow suffering?” The question is asked a lot and can sometimes seem like a good question. When you’re suffering, it can feel like there’s no reason to go through with it. It can also feel like it will never end. But God does allow suffering for a reason. The question is, “What is that reason?”

There are two totally different places in scripture that answer this question. The first place is in the book of Genesis. It is the story of Joseph, in which God works the worst sin into good. The second place in which the bible talks in depth about suffering is in the book of Job, where Satan asks God if he can try to make Job curse God. So you are still wondering about the suffering question. I’m about to get to that, so hold your horses. Let’s start with the Joseph story. This powerful story starts of with Joseph, his eleven brothers, and his father, Jacob. Jacob and his twelve sons lived in the land of Canaan. On one of Joseph’s birthdays, Jacob gave Joseph a cloak that had every color on it. His brothers became jealous of him. Soon after that, Joseph came to his family two nights in a row, telling them of dreams he had had. These dreams made it sound like Joseph was their God, so his brothers began plotting against him. The next day, while they were watching the sheep, Joseph came down to the fields where his brothers were. They tossed him into a pit, ripping his colorful cloak off as they did. Soon, a caravan came by. They sold Joseph to them. Joseph went to Egypt as his brothers killed a sheep and put the blood on his cloak. When they arrived home, Jacob asked where Joseph was. They said that they had found the coat in a puddle of fresh blood on their way back. Meanwhile, Joseph ended up in jail because someone lied about something he didn’t do. Some of the prisoners had dreams, and Joseph interpreted them. One of the prisoners got out of jail and served pharaoh. Pharaoh had a dream, and no one could tell him what it meant. The man who had gotten out of jail told Pharaoh about Joseph. Pharaoh called Joseph to him, and Joseph was able to tell what they meant. They said that for seven years, they would have plentiful harvest, but then for seven years after that, they would have a horrible famine. Pharaoh made Joseph ruler of Egypt. Joseph saved food for seven years in a storehouse, and then during the famine, people from all over came to buy food. Some of these people were Joseph’s brothers. Joseph took one captive, but then decided to reveal his hidden identity to them. They felt like they should be killed for what they had done to him, but God had another idea. Joseph forgave his brothers for the horrible thing that they had did. They went back to Canaan and brought their father back to Egypt. They all lived happily ever after to the end of their days. In this story, God turns suffering into a way to save many lives, and has Joseph forgive a horrible sin, which then brought his family closer than they had been before.

Okay, now let me describe the Job story. Satan asked God if he could test Job to see if he would curse God and die. So God started removing things from Job’s life. He took away his children, his livestock, his health, and basically left him with his wife. Three of Job’s friends went to comfort Job and told him that God didn’t love him and that he must have done something wrong to deserve the suffering he was enduring. Job’s wife told him to curse God and die. But Job refused to curse God or blame God for his pain. In the end, God showed up and reminded Job of how great He is. He doubled all of Job’s possessions, so that he owned twice as much as he had at the beginning of the book.

Both stories show reasons for intense suffering. In Joseph’s story, God took what was a horrible situation and used it to save many lives. If Joseph hadn’t been in Egypt, there wouldn’t have been anyone to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. And if nobody had interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, the Egyptians wouldn’t have had food saved up. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” God also showed Joseph his faithfulness. Often when we feel like we’re at the end of our ropes, God comes through and shows us how much he loves us and that he has a reason for our suffering. Job’s story was similar. God showed him his faithfulness, and when Job didn’t curse God and remained faithful, God multiplied what he had had. Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose. God allows suffering so that we will learn something. It’s up to us whether we accept the suffering and learn the lesson, or blame the suffering on an unjust God and ignore the lesson.


© Copyright 2017 Legolas Greenleaf. All rights reserved.

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