“WHY ME? Why did God permit this to happen to me?” Those are questions that disturbed 24-year-old Sidnei from Brazil. After an accident on a waterslide, he became permanently confined to a wheelchair.
Suffering that results from accident, illness, death of a loved one, natural disaster, or war can easily make people feel disappointed in God. This is nothing new. The patriarch Job of ancient times was struck with one calamity after another. Mistakenly he blamed God, saying: “I cry to you for help, but you do not answer me; I stand up, but you just look at me. You have cruelly turned against me; with the full might of your hand, you assault me.”
Job did not know the source of his troubles nor why they came upon him or were permitted. Happily, the Bible enlightens us on the reason why such events occur as well as how we should react to them.
DID GOD INTEND FOR PEOPLE TO SUFFER?
Regarding God, the Bible tells us: “Perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness who is never unjust; righteous and upright is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) That being the case, is it consistent or even comprehensible that a God who is “righteous and upright” would intend for humans to suffer or that he would use calamities to punish or purify them?
On the contrary, the Bible tells us: “When under trial, let no one say: ‘I am being tried by God.’ For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone.” (James 1:13) In fact, we learn from the Bible that God gave mankind a perfect start. He gave the first humans, Adam and Eve, a beautiful home, all of life’s necessities, and meaningful work to do. God told them: “Be fruitful and become many, fill the earth and subdue it.” Adam and Eve certainly had no reason to be disappointed in God.
But today, living conditions are far from perfect. In fact, throughout history, mankind’s plight has been severe. True is the description: “All creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together until now.” (Romans 8:22) What happened?
WHY IS THERE SUFFERING?
To understand why there is suffering, we should go back to the time when it started. Induced by a rebellious angel, later called Satan the Devil, Adam and Eve rejected God’s standards of right and wrong as represented by the command for them to refrain from eating of “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” The Devil told Eve that they would not die if they disobeyed God, thus accusing God of being a liar. Satan also accused God of withholding from his subjects the right to determine good and bad. (Genesis 2:17; 3:1-6) Satan implied that mankind would be better off without God’s rulership. All of this raised an issue of vital importance
The Devil raised yet another issue. He accused humans of serving God with selfish motives. About faithful Job, the Devil said to God: “Have you not put up a protective hedge around him and his house and everything he has? . . . But, for a change, stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your very face.” (Job 1:10, 11) Though Satan’s words were about Job, the implication was that all humans have selfish motives for serving God.
HOW GOD RESOLVES THE ISSUES
What would be the best way to resolve those fundamental issues once and for all? God, who is all-wise, had the best solution
How, then, will God bring the human condition in line with his purpose? Recall that Jesus taught his followers to pray: “Let your Kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also on earth.” (Matthew 6:10) Yes, in due time God, through his Kingdom, will remove all causes of suffering. (Daniel 2:44) Poverty, disease, and death will be things of the past. Regarding the poor, the Bible indicates that God “will rescue the poor who cry for help.” (Psalm 72:12-14) As for the sick, the Bible promises: “No resident will say: ‘I am sick.’” (Isaiah 33:24) Even concerning the dead ones who are in God’s memory, Jesus said: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.” (John 5:28, 29) What heartwarming promises!
Some 17 years after his accident, Sidnei, mentioned at the outset of this article, said: “I never blamed Jehovah God for the accident, but I have to admit that at first I was disappointed in him. There are days when I feel really down, and I cry when I think about my physical disability. However, from the Bible I have come to understand that the accident was not punishment from God. As the Bible says, ‘time and unexpected events overtake us all.’ Praying to Jehovah as well as reading specific scriptures has made me stronger spiritually and kept my spirits up.”
Keeping in mind the reasons why God has permitted suffering and how its effects will soon be undone helps us to overcome any feeling of disappointment in God that we may have. We are assured that God is “the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” No one who rests his faith on him and his Son will be disappointed.