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Why Does God Allow Suffering?
by Maryanna Louise Ray of Ripley, Maine
This month’s featured article by Maryanna Louise Ray of Ripley, Maine, was awarded first place (worth $250 cash) in AIIA’s 1998 essay contest for youth. Maryanna is the daughter of Pastor & Mrs. David Ray. Second place award (worth $150) went to Teisha Welch of Lee, Maine, and third place award (worth $50) to Christina Moyer of Pittsfield, Maine. Winning runner up entries were received from as far away as Boston – significant because we ask that all winning entrants agree to present their essays in person at our Spring symposium. Guidelines, details, and award information for the 1999 symposium next April is now available for the asking. Please call, write, or e-mail our AIIA office today.
She stood, motionless, in front of her husband’s grave. Her body, heart, and soul were numb with sorrow and pain. Every sense in her seemed dead, as dead as her husband. She couldn’t even think, except for one question that screamed for an answer inside her. “Why?”
How many of us have searched for the answer to this same question. Why does God allow the sting, the pain, and the awfulness of suffering, when He could, just by raising His hand, put a stop to it?
Though we may never fully understand until we get to Heaven, let me share a few reasons why I think God allows suffering – from what I have been taught, from what I have read, and from my own experiences.
First of all, a Christian is not to be surprised when something bad happens to him. We are to expect trials and hard times, for we are followers of the Man who suffered the greatest, and He told us that we, too, would face suffering.
God was not the inventor of pain. This was our choice. Because of our sin, the world suffers. Our wicked, sinful, human nature caused the earth to fall far beyond what God wanted for it. So-we must pay the consequences of our actions. Yet God in His greatness uses the pain we inflicted upon ourselves to His praise and glory. He even uses suffering for our good.
Mable Purviance, in her story of crushing sorrow [about] losing her little boy and questioning God with, “Why?”, tells how little by little she began realizing that she, through her grief, was becoming an instrument of God.
A pastor once said, “Suffering as an instrument of God may give people insight, compassion, depth of spirit, strengthening of faith, while at the same time purifying and sanctifying their lives and bringing them into conformity to the image of Jesus Christ.”
God is the Great Potter, and we are the clay. He molds us and shapes us to make us into the perfect sculpture. Like the blacksmith, He uses the fire to refine and shape us to the perfect fit.
God allows suffering because it teaches us that without God we would have no strength. He is our burden bearer. Suffering humbles, making us realize that it is only God who lifts us up. The pain of this world increases our faith and stretches our hope to God. In many cases He even uses suffering to turn towards Himself the eyes of those who would otherwise never see the light of His love.
God does not [gloat] over our pain. When our heart breaks, His is crushed. When we cry, He mourns. When we are numb, He will feel for us. Our suffering matters to the Almighty Creator who gave His own dear Son to die for this fallen race of mankind.
The trials and tribulations that we go through here on earth are not pointless. God has a supreme purpose for every tear. He does not ask us to understand. He just tells us to trust Him, cling to Him, and through our pain we will grow stronger. Jesus Christ, the great I Am, will not let anything happen to His dear children that is not in His will and for our good. Though we may not see this while standing by the graveside of a loved one, sitting in a wheelchair, or lying in a hospital bed, we can rest assured in this truth.
God loves you and He loves me. We are in His hand, covered and protected. So when the storm winds start to blow, when the sea is raging on every side, look up. And when you do, you will find a face full of compassion, with the arms of your Shepherd wide open, waiting for you to run to Him. He will hold you, and rock you back and forth, telling you that everything will be okay. It is only here that you will find the comfort and strength to go on. And so I encourage you.
“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” -Colossians 3:15