“Why is there suffering?” This is a question that has been wrestled with by a great number of people over the centuries. In a way there is no easy answer to this, because anyone who has come across real suffering knows that this is not an intellectual question that just requires an intellectual answer, but it is a crying out from the heart from a desperate situation. And this is not best forum to be answering such a question in a way, because it is hard for me to understand your situation and what you may have been through. That being said, I will try my best to outline a brief answer in the space available on what the Bible says about suffering.
The first thing to note is that the world isn’t as God wants it to be. When God created the world, everything was good. Suffering in the world is a result of human beings turning away from God - our relationship with God and other people has turned sour. Instead of doing what is right, what pleases God, we all do what pleases ourselves, at the expense of angering God, and hurting other people. It is as if we have taken what God has given us, the ability to love him and one another, and turned this ability into weapons that randomly shoot and harm anyone that happens to come by.
Now God is just and will not allow this rebellion to last forever, every human being and the world itself is under God’s judgement, and will continue to decay and go wrong until God ends it one day. He wants everyone to understand the state of things and so uses our circumstances (including suffering) to makes us aware that the world is not as it should be. He wants us to turn bak to him and be reconcilled.
So God, because of his love, has done something about the suffering in this world. He has sent Jesus to die for us. Jesus was God’s son, he was a perfect man, who did not deserve God’s punishment, and yet he took our punishment by suffering and dying a most unjust death on the cross. The book of the Bible called First Peter tells us that “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)
And after having suffered and died for us, Jesus was raised back to life, and when he returns, the world as we have it now will end. Those who believe in Jesus will enter a new world where there will be no tears and no suffering.
So this is a very simply outline of just some of the things the Bible talks about suffering, and is by no means complete. The main thing to understand is that suffering comes from our selfishness and rejection of God, we as a human race has bring it upon ourselves, and we and our world are also under God’s just punishment because of this. But this is not going to last. God loves us dearly and has already suffered himself in order to bring us out of this suffering world. We have a choice to accept this gift from God, or to persist in our selfishness and remain under the punishment of God.
If you would like to look into this issue further, there is a very good book I can recommend, called If I were God, I’d end all the Pain by John Dickson. It is a very short book that goes through how different religions respond to suffering and explains why the christian message gives a satisfactory answer in light of this. You can have a look at it in the Matthias Media website.
There are also other answers on the site that look at the issue of suffering. Try:
- Why does suffering seem so random?
- How do I know God loves me when I see people suffer?
- Why does God let bad things happen to good people?
If you have any further questions, please feel free to come back and ask us. If you want to talk to someone about Christianity or perhaps more about suffering, a great way would be to talk to any christian friend you know, or if you feel up to it, try going to your local christian church and getting to know some of the christians there. Schools, university campuses and sometimes work places often have christian groups that meet regularly in a more informal capacity, and these may be great groups to start getting to know some christian friends that you can talk to about your faith.