Most people find themselves asking “why does God allow suffering” at one point in their life or another.
It’s a hard question to answer, in fact, nearly impossible when you’re in the clutches of deep sadness and heartache, but my son and I discovered the answer can be surprisingly simple.
It started one morning when, toothbrush in hand, my young son 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 didn’t know what to say.
What answer could I possible give my son when I didn’t understand myself?
How could God let this precious child of mine get bullied? How could He let my other son get cancer?
I floundered a bit, offering a response that was unsatisfactory to both of us. Then we moved on with our morning routine.
As we sat down to breakfast, I opened our children’s daily devotional, Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids.
When I saw the verse of the day, my heart skipped a beat.
Here was a direct answer 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 the verse of the day spoke to the question we had just raised, why does God allow suffering.
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 said to His disciples, in this world we will have trouble.
Jesus isn’t promising us a problem-free life.
Free will, sin and the devil himself heap heartache on our head in this imperfect world.
Not one person, including Jesus who died on a cross, gets to avoid suffering.
But Jesus will not abandon us. He will not leave us to suffer alone.
As we suffer, Jesus will stand firm by our side.
My son and I felt that very clearly that morning when Jesus showed up in His word in a way that was incredibly real to us.
We learned that when you are suffering and want to feel Jesus by your side, the best thing you can do to hear Him is go to His word. Dig into the Bible just a little bit at a time in chunks you can manage.
The suffering might not go away, but the comfort will come.