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Question

Why does it seem that good people always suffer more than normal in this life?

Answer

Thank you so much for your interesting question. Suffering is always a difficult thing and it can be hard to understand the reason why. Perhaps you asked this question because of difficulty in your life. I hope if that is the case that you will find in God the way to cope with the pain in the world.

It surprises many people to know that the Bible speaks a lot about suffering. It does not feel that this is a problem for Christianity. In fact in many ways, discussing suffering gets us to the heart of the Christian faith. The Bible is incredibly honest about the fact that often the wicked seem to prosper. One of the prayers in the book of Psalms that Christians are encouraged to pray includes these lines:

Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. (Psalm 73:12-14)

So what are the reasons for it? The Bible gives a number of reasons, three of which we will discuss:

The first is this is a fallen world. When God created the world, it was perfect and there was no suffering. But when the first man and woman chose to live without God they were punished by evil coming into the world. There was now shame (Genesis 3:7), pain in childbirth (Genesis 3:16), broken relationships between men and women (Genesis 3:16), thorns and thistles making work hard (Genesis 3:17-19) and finally death (Genesis 5:5).

How does this affect good people? Well firstly the Bible teaches us that "no one does good, not even one." (Romans 3:12). Like our first mother and father, all of us reject God which causes us to deserve any pain that comes our way in this world. However, it is worth saying the Bible does not teach karma; it isn't the case that people who have more suffering are more evil. Rather, since the whole world has rejected God, the world is in chaos and suffering comes to people with no real reason. This is the effect of living away from God.

A second reason for suffering for good people is the enemies of God. O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God (Psalm 3:1-2). Although we all by nature reject God, some turn to trust in him. These people often suffer more, because people in the world cause them immense grief. Indeed the book of Job tells us that sometimes Satan himself may cause us to have trials and tribulations to tempt us away from God. These enemies of God often sin against those who follow God and so often they are in more pain than most.

However, whilst the world is chaotic and random because of sin and whilst there are enemies, the Bible teaches that God is always in control. Why, then, does he allow these things to happen? The Bible teaches that suffering is often used for the benefit of his people. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). What does that mean? Does that mean God makes non-Christians suffer for the sake of Christians? No. But it means that whatever suffering Christians have is for their good. We often see this in a small way. We lose a job, but gain a better one. A relationship breaks down, but we find the spouse of our dreams. Yet God's plans are greater than that. He wants us to become more like him and suffering can often create great character.

Peter describes suffering as a fire (1 Peter 1:6-7). When gold is put in fire it burns away all the impurities, leaving only pure gold. Suffering burns away many of our impurities and leaves us with the gold of true obedience.

Yet we might ask, who is God that he should sit up in heaven, comfortable and free of suffering, allowing us to suffer?

Well this is perhaps one of the greatest truths of Christianity. God became a man and experienced our suffering. He was born in an animal's feeding trough and was thought to be born out of wedlock (a huge stigma in that society). Much of his life he lived without a home.

But greatest of all was the cross. He begged his Father not to let him die on the cross (Luke 22:41-42). We are told he even sweat drops of blood, a medical condition experienced by those in extreme stress (Luke 22:44). He experienced the hardship of sufferings. And why? So that when we die we need not face an eternity of suffering but the eternal joy that he deserved. He took our suffering so that he might have his joy.

'Why then doesn't he end this suffering?' you might ask. Well the Bible teaches he will come again and end all suffering. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4)

Why hasn't that happened yet? The Bible's answer is clear. The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9). God doesn't want people to perish. He waits a little longer so that all may come to repentance.

This is where it gets personal. If we want to escape suffering and be in that new place where God wipes every tear from our eyes, we need to follow Jesus. The question is, are you following him? Only if we repent of going our own way, and trust Jesus' death to have taken the penalty for our sins can we be saved from the suffering of this world. Do you have that hope?

Jesus was once asked about a terrible tragedy that happened. He said to his followers: "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:2-3).

Suffering exists to point us to the pain that comes from being away from God. It should cause us to repent, completely turnaround from following our own way, to trusting in Christ's death and following him all the days of our lives.

In summary, suffering happens because there is sin in the world. But there will be a day when God "will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Revelation 21:4) - if we trust in him.

Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:

  • Luke 13:1-5
  • Psalm 73
  • Revelation 21:1-5

I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video

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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

*If anything in this answers affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline


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