I have been thinking a lot about human suffering. It seems that there are always those unfortunate that have to go through terrible suffering, while the rest of us lead seemingly charmed lives. Children are abused, families starve, others suffer with physical or mental illness. There is great suffering in the world.
I have talked with those who question how there could be a God if there is so much suffering in the world. If He is God, why doesn't He just make it all go away? If He is God, why doesn't He care enough to stop the suffering? I have to admit that these are tough questions. I don't know all the answers, but I do have some thoughts about this.
1) We have free agency
This life is a testing ground to see if we will choose good over evil. How can a person be truly tested if they aren't given the freedom to act how they want? As horrible as it may sound, people are allowed to be evil because that is part of their life's test.
2) We are allowed to suffer
Although many people have suffered things that I can't even begin to imagine, God allows us to suffer. One might ask why. I don't know all the answers, but I do think that there are several things we learn from suffering.
a) We learn how to comfort other people who suffer. Not only do we learn how to comfort others, but we really understand what they are going through.
b) Through suffering we are given a chance to learn faith. By faith I mean not only faith in God, but the power to carry on. I heard a story recently about an Olympic athlete who was flying over Lake Powell when the plane went down. He and his companions had to swim for an hour to find land. He said that one thing he learned is that just when you think you have given your all, you find hidden resources and faith that you didn't think you had. Suffering shows us our strengths.
3) Life isn't always fair
There are great injustices in life. Some appear to have the easy life, while others struggle just to survive. We are all dealt the life we have, and must work to get by the best we can.
4) Those who don't suffer are under a sacred obligation to lift the burdens of those who do.
Those of us who have food should share. Those of us who have health should serve and help those who are ill. Those of us who have faith should strengthen those who don't. The suffering of others puts us under great condemnation if we ignore it and don't offer to relieve their burdens.
3) Justice will be served, although maybe not in this life.
Those who abuse, those who hurt others will receive their just reward. It may not happen in this life. As unfair as this sounds, they may live out a life of luxury. They may be the O.J. Simpson who spends his carefree hours golfing and partying. But make no mistake, God will deal out true justice in the end.
Although it is difficult to understand why God allows suffering, I do believe that it pains Him to see us suffer. He allows us our free agency to help or not to help, but I think it pains him to see us ignore the suffering of others. We get angry at those who abuse others, but what about those of us that ignore the suffering of others? This life is a test....will we fail?