“Why didn’t God just create us so that we would never have to experience pain, suffering, or sadness?”
After all, God has the power to make the world free of evil, yet He chose instead to make us creatures with free will. Thus, free will was the door left open for the possibility of evil entering our lives.
What is the purpose of pain, suffering, and evil? Why does God allow humans, who were made in His image, to live on a planet where evil abounds? God could have made us perfect without the ability to sin, and we would have never known pain and suffering.
We would be like Chatty Cathy dolls–just pull the string and watch us do and say whatever we were programed. Is that the kind of life you would wish to live? Well, obviously God did not think so either. That’s the short answer to why God created us with free will.
With free will came the possibility that Adam and Eve might disobey God of their own volition and partake of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. Well, thanks to some coaxing from Satan, Eve ate the fruit and offered some to Adam. The first two humans that God created exercised the right of choice that God had given them. Because they didn’t obey God’s command, sin entered the universe and that sin was handed down to every human who was born of man. All of us, believers and non-believers alike, wrestle with the daily struggles of the “Adam and Eve” within us.
Christ died on the cross so that, if we believe in Him, we can have eternal life. However, just because we gave our life to Christ, does not mean we are immunized from the pain and suffering of this world. This is why so many Christians inevitably ask the question, “Why am I suffering God? Why do my loved ones suffer?” What if on the day we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we were given God’s total and complete protection, so nothing bad ever happened to us again?
“Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face. Job 1:9-11
Can you imagine what would happen if God did put a hedge about us on every side? Would not the people of the world who do not know Christ, say:
“So what, that you love Go. Anybody would love God if He protected them the way He does you. I’m not impressed. Your God doesn’t offer me anything; I live in the real world.”
What if those people, who watched us suffer, saw the way we dealt with the same issues of pain, suffering and disappointment as they deal with, and we showed an example of looking to our Father in heaven with love and gratefulness? His loving mercy allows us to be free enough to learn and grow through our trials and tribulations, like the apostles.
Apostles were once flogged and ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus. When they were released, they considered it worthy to be able to suffer for the name of Christ ( Acts 5:40-42). We are told by Christ in Matthew 5:11-12 that when people persecute us and falsely say all kinds of evil against us because of Him, that we should, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven will be great.” James tells us that we should consider it all joy when we encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance (James 1:2-4). These and other passages describe rejoicing, not in spite of the suffering, but because of it. Remember what Paul says about not losing heart over the fact that our flesh is decaying with age and infirmities:
“because our trials will renew our spirit daily…………for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal,” 2 Cor 4:16-18.
A few short paragraphs later, Paul described the many trials and tribulations he went through. He endured imprisonments, beatings with whips and rods, he was stoned, not once but three times, and left for dead. Three times he was shipwrecked; threatened by robbers, Gentiles and Jews; attacked by wild animals; bitten by a poisonous snake; left cold, hungry, and thirsty; and suffered many other hardships for the Gospel of Christ (2 Cor 11:23-27). Paul finished well.
People observed Paul’s faith in God as persistent, consistent, and profound. Paul was the greatest and most successful evangelical missionary preacher the world had ever seen. It was his suffering along with that of the other apostles that eventually changed an empire. Tertullian said that,“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
It is through times of struggle and hardships that we can shine the brightest and reach more of the lost if we react to our pain and suffering like Christ.
Use the comfort you get from God in your suffering as training so you might comfort others. Teach those who don’t know the Lord to lean on Him in their suffering by leaning on Him in yours. Show them how you love and trust Him. We must willingly approach our infirmities and hardships, knowing that we hold a greater prize before us after this life than this world can ever offer. That is what we have to teach the world. So ask not why you suffer, but praise God for the chance to shine and be an example as our Lord was for us.