Why Does God Allow Good People to Suffer? Part 1



For the hurting, with love...


I have spent more time praying about and seeking Scriptures for this post than any other. This is not a favorite topic to blog on or speak on. Some (unfortunately, even in the church) would rather pretend that suffering does not exist. Others simply ignore the pain of others because, quite simply, they don't know what to say. It is not that they don't care, rather... they are at a loss.

I have set out to write the blog that I needed in some of my deepest pain. This is not to say that there were not others who were there for me. My parents and sister were extremely dear to me during this time. On a particular day when I was losing hope, my sister dropped everything to drive over an hour away and take care of me and encourage me. My mom watched me and took care of me during some of my darkest times. My husband missed work, my father paid him anyway. Doctors fought for me and looked for answers. The local ketamine clinic encouraged me, treated me and lifted me up. The therapist that worked there had a profound impact on me during what I can only describe as soul- crushing despair. My Biblical counselor spoke the Word of God into me, prayed for me. A wonderful woman who I worked for in fast food as a teenager wrote me handwritten letters of God's truth.

Looking back, I can see the hand of God in my deepest pain.
Yet, I have met others who have not had this community. They are lost, they are ill, they are lonely. They felt as even God has abandoned them.

This is for them.


Who is God?

Before I go much deeper, I want to say that I am talking about the God of the Bible. The Triune God of the Old Testament and the New. The God who spoke to Abraham, David and who came to earth as a perfect, sinless man. 

"Well, of course" you say. "I know you are a professing Christian. Obviously you would talk about the God of the Bible."

What I have found, however, is that even professing Christians will make claims such as,

"I know God wouldn't want me to suffer so He didn't do this."

or

"I know it says x in the Bible, but I know God wouldn't want me to be unhappy so x."

or

"I would never want my children to suffer in this way so I know God wouldn't have done this to me."


None of these statements can be found in the context of Scripture.

The first two commandments in the Scriptures are warnings not to make idols. It is our default setting. We are all too quick to make a god in OUR own image. We must consult the Bible consistently to gain an accurate description of who God is. This can not be based on our thoughts and feelings as

Jeremiah 17:9- The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?



To make it through the deepest and darkest of trials, we must know the character of God. We must know who God is as He has revealed Himself in Scripture.

These are some of the things that we can know about God from His revealed Word:

1. He is unchanging.

Hebrews 1:12b- But You are the same, and Your years will have no end.
Hebrews 13:8- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
John 8:58- Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."
Revelation 1:8- "I am the Alpha and Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

So while my circumstances can and will change. While I may endure tremendous trials and hardships... 
who He is will not. Ever.

2. He is faithful.

2 Timothy 2:13- if we are faithless, He remains faithful-
Deuteronomy 7:9- Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations.
2 Thessalonians 3:3- But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.

When going through my trials, I do not need to look at my own situation for my hope. I need to look to Him.

Psalm 73:26- My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

I have spoken to so many in chronic illness who have felt abandoned. Friends stop coming over. Family stops talking to you. But God promises to His own,

Hebrews 13:5b- I will never leave you nor forsake you.

We see from the Scriptures that God will never change. He will never leave His own. 
There's more good news....



3. He has a purpose.

Romans 8:28- And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

I have found Romans 8:28 to be one of the most fascinating verses. It is probably one of the most quoted, and yet, we don't often look at it in its full context.
In Romans 8:29 we're told that those He foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. Yet, how does He do this? 

How does God conform us to be like Jesus?

The remainder of the chapter gives us a hint. In verse 35 Paul writes, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or danger or sword?"

Is he implying that we won't experience these things?

No.

Romans 8:36- As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."

Paul goes on to write that through Christ, we are more than conquerors in these things. We can count on that.

There are many reasons that we will go through hardships as believers and, while we can't know them all, we are told many of the purposes.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18- So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

The apostle does not write this from an ivory tower. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 he gives us a snapshot into what his life looks like on a daily basis:

Five times I received at the hand of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart, from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

Yet Paul could confidently state in Colossians 1:24-

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the church

This is something that the church should still be doing today.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5-
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 affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort.

We are to comfort each other with the same comfort that God gave us through our darkest days.





4. He gives us hope.

I desperately needed to be reminded of this when I was at my worst. Our God is a God of hope.

Romans 8:18- For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:24-25- For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes in what he sees? For if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

1 Peter 5:10- And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

If I am a child of God, I can be confident that this suffering is temporary. He will restore me and strengthen me.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:3 the Apostle writes,

remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Thessalonians didn't have hope because of their circumstances. Their steadfastness came from their hope in the only one worthy of it, Jesus Christ.

5. He is absolutely Sovereign.

This brings us back to our first question. If you ask the question,

"Why does God allow good people to suffer?"

you have to ask another question,

"Can He control it?"

There are some who would say, "No."

They can't imagine that God would ever allow anything that they perceive as bad to happen. They argue that we live in a fallen world. God just does the best He can with bad circumstances.

The problem is that you absolutely can not get this from Scripture.

Isaiah 45:7- I form light and create darkness;
I make well-being and create calamity;
I am the Lord, who does all these things.

Amos 3:6- Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid?
Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?

John 9:3- Jesus answered,"It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him."

Lamentations 3:31-33- For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not afflict from His heart or grieve the children of men.

Job 37:6- For to the snow He says, "Fall on the earth," likewise to the downpour, His mighty downpour.

Amos 4:7- "I also withheld the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain on one city, and send no rain on another city; one field would have rain, and the field on which it did not rain would wither;"

Acts 4:27-28- for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place.

2 Chronicles 20:6- and said, "Oh Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In Your hand are power and might so that none is able to withstand You.

I spent more time on the Sovereignty of God than any of the other attributes of God that I have listed because this is the one that I see corrupted the most.

There are other attributes of God that I didn't even cover such as His love and justice. 

I made the statement last year to my Biblical counselor that I was afraid of the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God. She misunderstood me to be saying that I didn't believe God was Sovereign. That was not the case.

I was terrified that He was.

But I was missing a big piece of the puzzle. In fact, I would say the crucial piece:


You can not appreciate the Sovereignty of God until you KNOW the character of God.

Until you know and rest on the fact that God is unchanging, He is faithful, He is a God of hope, He is a God of love, He has a purpose for everything that I am going through, He is just and He is absolutely Sovereign,

I will not know peace and rest.

But, once I know those things, once I hold onto those promises,

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4


"I have come to learn in whatsoever state I am there-in to be self sufficient and independent of circumstances."
"Christian people can you say that, do you know that state? Let this become first with us, let this become our ambition, let us strain every nerve and do everything we can to get into this blessed state. Life may force it upon us, but even if circumstances do not, the time is bound to come, soon or late, when earth and every earthly scene will pass away, and in that final isolation of the soul we shall be alone, facing death and eternity. The greatest thing in life is to be able to say, with Christ Himself at that hour: 'And yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.'" John 16:32

Martyn Lloyd Jones
Spiritual Depression





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