Why Does God Allow Suffering?
Why Does God Allow Suffering? Because suffering is necessary.
No suffering occurs without purpose. Peter tells us suffering only comes to us when the sovereign God of the universe deems it necessary. A sovereign and merciful God causes “all things to work together for our good” (Romans 8:28), meaning that a mixture of things that bring delight along with things that bring pain are necessary to work together for our good. Though difficult, we may rest assured there is no senseless suffering for any genuine believer in Christ.
How do you distinguish a genuine believer from a hypocritical one?
Suffering separates the genuine believer from the hypocritical one. According to Peter, suffering is a test which exposes false faith and reveals the genuineness of true faith. Our Lord spoke of this in the parable of the soils:
And other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil … And in a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away” (Mark 4:5, 16-17).
The plant that comes up in the shallow soil looks genuine. For a while. Then the sun beats down, exposing the absence of a root system that would provide the necessary nourishment. When times are good, you can’t tell the difference between a shallow Christian and a deep Christian. Good times don’t require depth.
Satan never really seemed to understand depth. He was sure Job was faithful to God only because God blessed him with so many good things. Take all of that away, Satan said, and Job will curse you to your face. So, God allowed Satan to bring intense pain and suffering into Job’s life to reveal the depth of Job’s faith and character—to reveal whether Job was an authentic believer, or just a fair weather one. Every form of suffering is hard, and we would like to avoid suffering if possible. But not at the expense of not becoming the kind of Christians God wants us to become—deep, authentic, genuine.
By far and away the primary criticism non-believers have with the church has something to do with their perception that we are hypocrites; that is, that we are not authentic Christians. Were it not for suffering, those who are watching us with a critical eye might logically conclude that we are not authentic. But suffering is the litmus test. Suffering exposes false faith and reveals genuine faith.