Why do people suffer?

Have you ever watched television and been discouraged by world tragedies? Or have you read the newspaper and wondered why bad things happen to good people?

When disaster strikes our personal lives, the lives of those we love, or even people who live in other countries, it’s normal to ask why. Unfortunately, there isn’t always an easy answer for tragedy; because only God, whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours, can explain some things, which are often a mystery (Isaiah 55:9b).

Thankfully, even though we don’t always know why bad things happen in the world, the Bible does give us some reasons for personal and global suffering.

Suffering is a result of sin.

The Bible tells us that God has given humans the choice to follow His ways and love Him. However, just as we cannot force others to love us, God doesn’t force those He’s created to love and follow Him.

When Adam and Eve chose not to obey God’s instructions, there were not only consequences for them, but for the entire human race that was born after them; and ever since their disobedience, the world has been broken by sin.

Certainly, the world is still wonderful in many ways, but natural disasters, disease; storms, droughts, decay and physical death trouble everyone. As a result of Adam and Eve’s sin, the human race has also been poisoned by selfishness and greed, fear, hatred, cruelty, lying, rape, murder, war, and other evils.

The second reason people suffer is because of their own sin. For example, a man who robs a bank may become crippled when he is shot by the police. Or a child may get hit by a car when they disobey their parents and run out into the street.

A third reason for suffering is because people sin against one another. For example, millions of people have been killed because of hatred between certain groups or because of selfish or racist leaders.

However, sometimes suffering happens when people don’t sin.

Not all suffering is a result of sin.

Sometimes we suffer because we make mistakes—or commit actions that are not sinful [evil], but ignorant or careless. For example, a woman may forget to turn-off her stove and so her apartment building burns down.

Finally, people can suffer because of the good choices they make. When a man donates his kidney to his sick brother, he will experience pain. Or when a woman chooses to give away her wealth to serve the poor, she may experience financial difficulty.

This kind of suffering that comes from loving others is the highest kind of love that can be demonstrated. Jesus said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends" (John 15:13).

This is the kind of love that Jesus has for you.