How can God love us if He allows us to suffer?

Question: Why does God allow his children to suffer in this life when He says that He has only the best intentions for you and will open the floodgates of heaven upon you?

Answer: You are ultimately asking something that only God Himself can answer. But let me tell you a parable to help you with the overall issue.

A mom took her 1yr old son to the doctor for his inoculations. The boy had been to the doctor already and felt a little nervous, but when he learned that he was going to be stuck by a needle he became outright scared and began clinging to his mother. In essence he was pleading with her to protect him from the doctor and his instrument of torture, the hypodermic needle.

Instead of protecting him his mother held him while the doctor stuck him. The look in his eyes conveyed what his words could not. “How could you have been complicit in this pain?” “Why would you let me hurt this way, aren’t you supposed to love me?” “I will never trust you fully again.”

His mother knew, of course, that her act was an act of love, no matter how hard it was to see her son suffer. She knew that without this shot he might experience an even worse pain or death. But there was no way to explain this to her one-year old in any terms he could possibly understand. All she could do was comfort him and hope that one day he would understand and would continue to trust in her love for him.

We know God loves us. Sending His Son Jesus to die for us proves that. If He could tell us in terms we could understand why He allows the suffering He allows in the world, I’m sure He would. But there is a bigger picture that only He can see at this point. Perhaps one day it will become more clear to us.

I hate to admit it, but knowing that human beings are basically about ourselves and our own comfort and that internally we rebel against submitting to our Creator, it seems the only thing that moves us to seek Him at all is pain. The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8:18 and following that God has subjected the world to futility. Things don’t work the way they were intended to originally before we rebelled against God. If things continued to be a Garden of Eden for us I don’t believe we would ever turn to Him. We would be content with His good gifts and unmotivated to see how much we need more than His good gifts. We need a rescue from our rebellious hearts.

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3 thoughts on “How can God love us if He allows us to suffer?

  1. I think that this parable is a bad comparison if you take the suffering of the world today.

    For instance, there are tribes in Africa that put baby, born outside a marriage, under a “holy” tree and fill their mouth with sand and simply turn their backs a leave the innocent baby choke to death. That is something really bad and we, Christians would never do that to any person because it is wrong, it doesn’t matter what a person do wrong, we may never judge them or even touch them to do anything evil. But that’s where I’m stuck, how God allows that?

    It is easy for us to simply say “it’s Gods will” and magically the problems go away. I can’t see justice to punish someone for eternity just because they are Catholic, Buddhist or whatever.

    We would not punish someone forever just because they don’t believe in us but we teach that God, perfect, pure, creator of all does that.

    • I think the parable stands. It is not meant to equate the suffering that people experience with getting a shot or inoculation. It is the principle I am after. God knows something about how this suffering is going to play out in eternity that we don’t and that He can’t explain to us in terms we understand. He has proven that He loves us by entering into our suffering and dying for us. He has not insulated Himself from pain. No one is saying it’s God’s will and that this magically makes the problem go away. We are saying that our knowledge is limited and our sense of justice is strong but limited, and the perfect God is perfectly loving and perfectly just at the same time. He is not ashamed of His wrath because it is completely fair and deserved. He is not ashamed of His love, because it is completely in line with His relationship within the trinity and with the value He has put in us.

      We would “punish” someone who rejects us, works against us, and even pretends we don’t exist, by moving away from them relationally. When God does this it is just and fair, and it is hell. Unbelief is not a passive, innocent stance, but a rebellious and evil one.

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