Pain and suffering exist. Does that mean God doesn’t? Wouldn’t an all-powerful, benevolent God eliminate suffering? These questions are so important to address. Nonbelievers claim that the existence of pain and suffering prove there is no God. They have a hard time reconciling the idea of a loving, compassionate God with the reality of cancer, untimely deaths, horrific crimes, war, and natural disasters. Sometimes Christians may struggle with doubt as well when faced with tragedy or persecution.
What does the Bible have to say about why good people suffer? At Higher Ground, we have Bible-marking classes each day. During the final class, the girls have an opportunity to come up with their own Bible-marking topics. A couple of years ago, one of the groups chose “Why Good People Suffer,” and below are the verses they shared and their suggestions of what to mark. This is an excellent topic to have marked in your Bible so you will be prepared to help anyone who wrestles with this question.
(If you are new to this blog or unfamiliar with Bible-marking, please check out previous how-to posts. You can click on Bible-marking in the tag cloud.)
Why Good People Suffer– James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
Box in the words “good” and “Father” and connect them with a line. Write in the margin, “So where do bad things come from?” At the end of the verse, write Job 1:6-12.
For the sake of space, the text will not be included here. Circle the word “Satan” every time it occurs in these verses. At the end of verse 12, write James 1:2-4.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Underline “joy” and “your faith produces patience” (some versions read “endurance”). At the end of the verse, write 1 Peter 1:6,7.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Circle “various trials” and underline “genuineness of your faith” (some versions read “proof of your faith”). At the end of the verse, write Rom. 8:18.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.
Circle “sufferings of this present time” and underline “not worthy.” Then circle “glory” and underline “shall be revealed in us.” At the end of the verse, write Rev. 21:4.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
In the margin write, “If we didn’t suffer here on earth, we wouldn’t want to go to Heaven.”
How does our loving and compassionate God feel about pain and suffering? He wants to wipe it all away, and He will. That’s His promise. We may endure trials for a little while here, but we have a promised eternity of pain-free bliss ahead of us. As Timothy Keller wrote, ““Resurrection is not just consolation — it is restoration. We get it all back — the love, the loved ones, the goods, the beauties of this life — but in new, unimaginable degrees of glory and joy and strength.”
If you’d like to add more verses to this topic, here are some additional ones that help us understand why good people suffer:
- Rom. 5:3-5- It produces endurance, character, and hope.
- 1 Pet. 5:10- Any suffering is brief; God’s grace is eternal.
- 1 Pet. 4:12-19- It allows us to share in the sufferings of Christ. Suffering as a Christian allows us to glorify God.
- John 16:33- The world is full of tribulation.
- 2 Tim. 3:12- All who desire to live godly lives will suffer/ be persecuted.
- Psa. 119:67- It can cause us to return to the Lord.
- 2 Cor. 4:16-18- It prepares us for glory.
- 2 Thess. 1:1-12- It makes us worthy of the kingdom of God.
- James 5:10,11- It helps us build endurance.
- 2 Cor. 1:3-7- It allows us to share in the comforts of Christ.
- 1 Pet. 2:19-21- If we endure suffering for doing good, it is a gracious thing in God’s sight.
- Matt. 5:10-12- Some suffering is because we wear the name of Christ.
- 2 Cor. 12:7-10- It causes us to rely on Christ’s grace and strength.
Prayer for Today: In a world of suffering, may we help others see Your love and goodness.