While the Bible gives no precise or detailed answer to this question, it does speak a lot about suffering, it can help people deal with their suffering, and it does give us a number of principles to help us with the ‘problem of suffering’.

The Bible tells us that God created a perfect universe where we could enjoy perfect relationships (with God and with each other) in a perfect environment (disease and disaster free).

Suffering and pain are the result of our rebellion against our creator. It is easy to trace the link between some suffering and acts of human selfishness (eg. terrorist acts, drink-driving). But some suffering is not the direct result of any specific selfish action (eg. injury in a freak storm). It exists because we live in a ‘fallen’ world. (i.e. a world that has turned it’s back on God).

Sometimes God allows suffering to alert rebellious and self reliant people to the need to turn back to him and rely on him.

God has suffered. If anyone knows about suffering, it is God. He has experienced the pain of our rejection of him. Jesus has suffered, by dying on the cross in our place so that we could be forgiven. (We have no conception of the suffering Jesus went through in doing this.) God hates suffering and the pain it brings to the creation he loves.

He has promised that he will wipe away all suffering, and every trace of evil when he re-creates the universe. In this new creation those who have turned back to God and trusted in Jesus will enjoy perfect relationships in a perfect world.

God is purposefully delaying that time so that men and women have the opportunity to turn back to him and receive his forgiveness through Jesus’ death and resurrection. God is displaying his patience and love in delaying that great moment because he does not want anyone to experience the suffering of being separated from his love for ever.