One morning, my young son turned to me, toothbrush in hand, and said, “Mom, I don’t think God is really with us all the time, because I don’t feel very protected. The bullies still bug me, and God doesn’t stop them.”
I could relate. I had asked the same question in my own life.
Why does God allow suffering?
This question was especially on my mind when my youngest son was diagnosed with cancer.
It’s a hard question to answer. In fact, nearly impossible when you’re in the clutches of deep sadness and heartache.
What could I possible say to my son when I didn’t understand it myself?
As we sat down to eat breakfast, I got out our children’s daily devotional Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids we liked to read in the mornings.
When I saw the verse of the day, my heart did a double take. It perfectly spoke to our question, why does God allow suffering.
I snuck a look at my son to make sure he was listening. Then I read out loud:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Looking up from his plate, my son burst into laughter. I joined him, laughing as we marveled at how perfectly this verse spoke to our question, why does God allow suffering.
It was as if God had directly answered our question.
I went on to read the daily devotion. It said that we might think we deserve a problem-free life because we follow Jesus, but that simply is not true. Just like Jesus told His disciples, in this world we will have trouble.
Jesus isn’t promising us a problem-free life, but He does promise us a problem-free eternity.
God showed up that morning, through His Word, in a way that was very real to us, Jesus answered our question. In the process, he also made us laugh and brought us true happiness at feeling him so close to us in such a tender moment when we were asking, why does God allow suffering.
As I looked at my son’s smiling face, I couldn’t help but feel Jesus sharing in the joy of that moment with us. I could sense His delight at the fact that we knew him a little better through His Word in the Bible.
We will have troubles in this life.
Free will brought pain and suffering into the perfect world God created for us, and there’s not a person out there, Jesus included, who doesn’t suffer in one way or another.
It’ won’t be easy or fun, but we’re not alone in our suffering. Jesus will not abandon us. He will not leave us to suffer alone.
Instead, Jesus will stand firm by our side crying with us when our child is sick or our husband leaves or we can’t pay the next bill or we’re being bullied.
As we suffer, Jesus will hold our hand and watch over our hearts. Then, one day, when He can stand our suffering on this earth no more, He will lead us into a problem-free eternity where the pain can’t touch us anymore, because Jesus has overcome the world.