Why Does God Allow Suffering?
Q. One of my best friends died after fighting cancer for a year. He was a strong Christian and only 15. I grew up hearing that God is loving and that as long as we trust God, everything will be okay. But now that seems so lame. I know God didn't cause my friend to die, but I just can't understand why he had to suffer the way he did. Doesn't God care?
A. I believe the Bible shows us God really does care. Jesus shed tears at the death of his friend Lazarus. In the Old Testament, we see God expressing righteous anger when his people are treated unjustly. God's commitment to us is so strong that he sacrificed his only Son so that the world might be saved. Yes, it's quite clear God cares.
But your question is one most of us have had at one time or another. Where is God in the midst of tragedies? What went wrong when a very bad thing happened to a very good person? I wish I had a simple answer that could satisfy the questions we all have about God. But I don't. Why a comitted young Christian suffers and dies of cancer while a drug dealer who preys on children lives to old age is not for me to answer or understand. That's just one of the many issues of living in a less-than-perfect world that's awfully hard to figure out.
However, I'm not sure I completely agree with your statement, "As long as we trust God, everything will be okay." The Bible is quite clear that God will walk with us through life's problems, and that he will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8; Hebrews 13:5). But he never promises a life free from pain or suffering. Throughout the Bible, the people who trusted God most were also the people who suffered the most. Look at Job or the Apostle Paul. They each suffered greatly. But they held on to their faith because they understood something important: God's ways are different from our ways. What seems best to us is not always what's best to God.
When my mom was dying of cancer, I couldn't say "Praise the Lord! My mom is going to be with God!" I prayed for her healing and hoped God would keep this good woman around for several more years. Yet, when she died, I was faced with the truth that Mom is happier today in heaven than she would have been on earth. If I truly wanted the best for Mom, then I needed to trust that God's way was the best, even though it wasn't the best for me.
I know it doesn't take away your pain, but I hope it's comforting to know your friend is at this very moment happier than you or I can even imagine. He is in a place where there is no sorrow or sickness. He is living in the presence of God.
We may have to wait until we join God in heaven to get some of our questions answered. Until then, take a look at Psalm 23. It reminds us that God may not always take away our suffering, but he will always walk beside us, leading us toward the best future possible—an eternal life with him.