Written by Evi Idoghor
I used to watch countless videos of people debating the Christian faith when I wanted to be a Christian apologist. The opponents included atheists, scientists, agnostics, antagonists, and protagonists (I am totally kidding about the last two). They almost always asked, “Why suffering?” Why does a good and loving God (as the Christians claim) allow people to suffer? They were referring to issues such as poverty, illness, death, natural disasters, and so on.
Last year, I came across a post on social media in which people were airing their grievances about the same issue. The author of the post lamented his female friends' painful menstrual cycles, which led to the discovery of fibroids. How can a loving father continue to watch his children suffer in pain, including childbirth pains, but many times “Christians” justify it using the bible, which makes me even more confused? (Paraphrased). He added, if God had already forgiven the sins of Adam and Eve, through Christ, then why do we still have to pay for them through these circumstances?
We are all aware that there are people in the world who are suffering. People are born into unfavorable circumstances; some children are rejected by their parents even before they are born, while others are abandoned and left to fate. Someone may have lost a job or a spouse and is unable to support themselves, while others are trafficked into the sex and slave trades. Why does God allow such terrible things to happen to people? I'm afraid I can't answer that directly, but I can offer some insights to help you deal with the realities of life on Earth.
If you study the Bible, you will discover that there is no place in it where God promises us a life without suffering or heartache before Christ's return. In John 16:33, Jesus tells His disciples, In this world, you will have trouble (that is the promise), but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world (We can rest on this).
When we consider our sufferings, pains, and disappointments in the context of eternity (another promise from God if you believe in His Son, Jesus), they pale in comparison to the reality of the pain being experienced. According to 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, we should not fix our gaze on what we see now (the tangible things, the pain, the sufferings, the heartaches, the betrayals.) Rather, we should concentrate on what we cannot see (the kingdom of God, which Jesus encourages us to seek first in Matthew 6:33), because what we see will pass away; they are temporal. And what we cannot see, which is God's kingdom, is what will last forever.
I'd like to add that a life of suffering and sorrow was not God's original plan. He made humans to be perfect, eternal beings. "See, this alone I found, that God made man upright," says Ecclesiastes 7:29, "but they have sought out many schemes." Because sin was introduced into this world, it brought with it a slew of disastrous consequences. Perhaps the first humans would not have sinned if they had known what their disobedience to God's word would mean for all of us.
But, thank God, this isn't our permanent reality. God has promised us a better life through Christ. That is, as many people who accept Jesus will have access to a life free of pain and suffering. Thus, our illnesses, poverty, and disappointments (among other things) are transient afflictions that will pass quickly and forever, as God promises, saying that He will eventually wipe away every tear and swallow forever the final enemy—death. Things will happen to us as long as we live in this fallen world. God, on the other hand, has not abandoned us as orphans (John 14:18). We have Jesus to hold our hands through the dark times, and He provides a way out through His sovereignty. When we consider these situations in light of eternity, our perspective shifts. A life without pain, sorrow and sin is what is promised after Jesus’s return. Not in the here and now, but God is still gracious enough to provide us with solace while we are here.
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