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Does God Want Us to Suffer? An Exploration of Faith and Pain
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Does God Want Us to Suffer? An Exploration of Faith and Pain

Does God Want Us to Suffer?

Suffering is an inevitable part of the human experience. Yet as Christians, we may wonder why a good and loving God would allow His children to undergo times of pain, hardship, and distress. Some have even become disillusioned in their faith, believing that a God who permits suffering cannot truly be good or caring.

However, suffering does not necessarily imply that God lacks compassion or has abandoned us. On the contrary, Scripture provides rich insight into the causes and purposes of suffering from a biblical perspective. By understanding what the Bible teaches about suffering, we can gain wisdom and hope to persevere through difficult seasons of life.

Key Takeaways:

  • Suffering entered the world through human sin, beginning with Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden.
  • God allows suffering to refine and strengthen our faith in Him.
  • Suffering produces godly virtues such as patience, endurance, and compassion.
  • God promises to be with us and comfort us in our suffering.
  • God uses suffering to draw us closer to Himself.
  • Our present sufferings pale in comparison to the eternal glory that awaits all who trust in Christ.
  • God will wipe away every tear and make all things new in the life to come.
Does god want us to suffer? An exploration of faith and pain

The Origin of Human Suffering

To understand suffering from a biblical perspective, we must start at the beginning. Genesis 1-2 describes a world free from pain, struggle, and death – a world that reflected the Creator’s perfect goodness. Humanity lived in complete harmony with God, creation, and one another.

But this all changed in Genesis 3 when the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, chose to rebel against their Maker. Tempted by the serpent, they ate the forbidden fruit in hopes of becoming like God (Genesis 3:5). With this act of defiant disobedience, sin entered the world and brought corruption, brokenness, and suffering in its wake.

Romans 5:12 (NKJV) explains:

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

Adam and Eve’s decision had catastrophic effects not only for themselves, but for all future generations. The Apostle Paul affirms that death and suffering came through this first sin. As genetic descendants of Adam and Eve, we have all inherited a sinful nature and exist in a fallen world filled with sorrow and pain.

Some mistakenly think God wanted humanity to fall into sin and suffer. But Scripture reveals that our suffering grieves the heart of God, who originally created a good world for His children to flourish. In Genesis 6:6, God expresses sorrow that He had made humankind because of their wickedness in the time leading up to the flood. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God declares:

Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Here, God affirms His loving plans and purposes toward His wayward people. He did not desire them to depart from Him or live under the curse of suffering. Yet because He honors human free will, He allowed them – and us today – to exercise our choice, even when it leads to pain.

Bible Knowledge Quiz

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1 / 10

Which apostle denied Jesus three times?

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What city were Jesus’ parents traveling to when Jesus was born?

4 / 10

What are the first three words of the Bible?

5 / 10

Who built the ark?

6 / 10

What sea did Moses part to escape the Egyptians?

7 / 10

Who was thrown into a lions' den but was not harmed?

8 / 10

Who was the first man created by God?

9 / 10

What fruit did Eve eat from the forbidden tree?

10 / 10

Who led the Israelites out of Egypt?

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Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Once we recognize that suffering entered the world not through God’s design but human disobedience, we can start addressing why God still permits it today. If He is all-loving and all-powerful, why doesn’t He just remove suffering from the lives of His followers?

Scripture reveals several key purposes behind the suffering God allows:

1. To refine and strengthen our faith

God often uses tribulation and distress to burn away impurities and build our trust in Him.

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NKJV)

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Just as literal fire refines gold, God uses the fiery trials of suffering to purify our faith and refine godly virtues in us. Rather than allowing tribulations to shipwreck our trust in God, they can actually deepen it as we witness His sustaining grace.

2. To produce godly virtues

God sometimes permits suffering to cultivate Christlike virtues such as patience, endurance, compassion, and humility.

Romans 5:3-4 (NKJV)

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

While in the midst of affliction, it’s easy to become discouraged and cynical. But when we respond with faith and endurance, suffering can shape us into the image of Christ Himself.

3. To draw us closer to Himself

Often during seasons of prosperity and health, we can drift from intimacy with God. But trials have a way of turning our hearts back to our Creator. Psalm 119:71 says, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.” Through suffering and dependence on God, our affections are stirred to seek Him more earnestly.

4. To discipline and correct us

The Bible is clear that God will sometimes discipline His children, just as a loving parent corrects their children. Suffering can serve to turn our hearts back to God’s ways when we’ve strayed onto sinful paths.

Hebrews 12:7-11 (NKJV)

“If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Though God’s discipline is often painful in the moment, it results in righteousness and spiritual fruit when we submit to it.

5. To equip us to comfort others

As Christians experience God’s comfort in their own sufferings, they are then able to extend that same comfort to others in their trials.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NKJV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Thus, our own afflictions give us the experience and empathy needed to minister to others.

God’s Comfort and Promises in Suffering

While allowing various trials and pains to touch our lives, God does not leave His children to suffer alone. Throughout Scripture, we find passage after passage emphasizing God’s nearness, comfort, and help for those enduring afflictions.

Psalm 34:18-19 (NKJV)

“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

God draws specially near to us in seasons of tribulation, saving and delivering us ultimately from every affliction.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NKJV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

As we experience sufferings, we also experience the matchless consolation of Christ. His comfort towards us overflows in proportion to the trials we face.

Not only does God promise to comfort His people, but He also promises to one day wipe away every tear and make all things new. In Revelation 21, we get a glimpse of the glory that awaits believers in eternity, a world completely free from sorrow, crying or pain.

Revelation 21:3-4 (NKJV)

“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

With this hope before us, we can persevere knowing that any grief or anguish we experience now will give way to everlasting joy in God’s presence. The eternal perspective puts our temporary trials into proper context.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

No matter what difficulties we face, Paul encourages believers to not lose heart. Our eternally focused hope shrinks present sufferings down to “light and momentary afflictions.” We must lift our eyes above immediate circumstances to the unseen spiritual reality of God’s eternal promises.

Trusting God’s Good Purposes in Suffering

Since God’s ways and thoughts are infinitely higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), we cannot expect to fully comprehend His purposes in everything He allows. Yet through Scripture, we catch glimpses of His wisdom, sovereignty, and love even amidst confusing trials.

Joseph’s story provides an excellent biblical example of this. After his brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph experienced false accusations, imprisonment, and profound grief. Yet, many years later, Joseph was able to look back and see God’s good plans through it all. He told his brothers, “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20).

Similarly, we may only see and feel the harsh circumstances pressing in around us. But if we maintain faith in God’s character, we can trust that He has divine purposes beyond our limited perspective.

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) gives us this precious promise:

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

This verse does not teach that all things in themselves are good. But for believers, God causes even life’s pains, tragedies, and injustices to work toward His sovereign plan and our ultimate good. With this confidence, we can surrender our need to understand everything and trust His fatherly care in our suffering.

So does God want us to suffer needlessly? Absolutely not. Yet in His wisdom, He does permit various trials to bring about His good, eternal purposes in conforming us to Christ’s image. As we yield to God’s loving hands, we can experience His sustaining grace and emerge from sufferings with an unshakable faith in our loving God.

Key Takeaways:

  • Suffering entered the world through human sin, beginning with Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden.
  • God allows suffering to refine and strengthen our faith in Him.
  • Suffering produces godly virtues such as patience, endurance, and compassion.
  • God promises to be with us and comfort us in our suffering.
  • God uses suffering to draw us closer to Himself.
  • Our present sufferings pale in comparison to the eternal glory that awaits all who trust in Christ.
  • God will wipe away every tear and make all things new in the life to come.

As we walk through seasons of affliction or anguish, we can take comfort in God’s boundless mercy and eternal purposes. By clinging close to Him, we gain strength to say along with Job:

Job 13:15 (NKJV)

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

May our hearts resonate with similar faith, even through tears. For our God can be trusted with our lives – both in times of plenty and in seasons of suffering.

Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.