Why do good people suffer?

This is the question of the ages. There are different definitions of  “goodness.” The standards we use define our answers.

Man’s way

If they use their own human standards, defined by their cultures, or personal value systems, then I cannot give them an answer. Because then, their suffering might actually have no meaning or value. It becomes a senseless, purposeless waste of human soul. It may, or may not, accomplish anything. Sometimes suffering leads to death, and then all we have is a lost life. We can have whole populations that die.  It is just an event in history, that may, or may not, shape future events.  But for those that died, it has no value.

God’s way

Only if we follow God’s standards for holiness, can we hope for an answer and an outcome that can convert the suffering into something we can eventually draw meaning from. There is a future, a reward, and an end result that is greater than, and overcomes, the actual suffering. If we walk in the flesh, meaning we may be believers, but we allow ourselves to be influenced by worldly standards of behavior, then we merit nothing. If we do something wrong, we will suffer the consequences. If we repent, then things can turn around for us.

We can suffer for different reasons (if following God’s way):

1. We are witnesses for the gospel of Christ, and we are opposed

2. We, as believers, make the mistake of getting “in the flesh,” and create negative circumstances, which lead to negative results. Repentance and seeking God for help, and forgiveness brings healing, spiritual growth, and understanding. Suffering in the flesh can be good for us, because the flesh will die, and the spirit can be strengthened.

For example, we may suffer for loosing our tempers. If we experience a horrible result, or loss, from this, then we will associate pain with anger, and we will be less likely to loose our tempers again. If work becomes our God, and we get fired, or betrayed, suddenly the work world is less appealing, and we will keep our spiritual priorities in order, better in the future. The cause of the suffering is sin, but the punishment helps to purge our flesh, and make us want to avoid the sin in the future.

1Pe 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

1Pe 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of [his] time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

3. We are involved in daily activities (not related to ministry or the gospel) with other people, who oppose us, and hurt us. If we conduct ourselves according to Christian principles, and behave as Christ would want us to behave, we may suffer for awhile, but the opposition is there to develop our character and faith. We are not actively ministering the gospel here, but our actions speak about what we believe, louder than words, and can make an impact on the general situation.

4. We are rejected, in general, as a Christian by unbelievers. In the last days, good will be called evil, and evil will be called good. Religious persecution is common in non-Christian countries, especially under Muslim or Communist rule.

5. We can be opposed, and rejected, by believers through misunderstandings.

6. Powerful acts of God, through nature, can bring threats or damage to our lives. A good example is Hurricane Katrina. These are wake up calls, NOT to the federal government for help, but to GOD Himself. If one places their faith in man, they will be disappointed. If one places their faith in God, they will somehow make it. When faced with possible death, one’s true character, and relationship with God, comes to the surface.

We must not fool ourselves in thinking that we are so close to God, that there is no room for improvement. We must seek God at these times, and place our trust in Him. Maybe it is our time to die, but maybe it isn’t either.

7. A fallen world and its problems affect us. Disease, defective manmade objects which are not safe (example old bridges, defective machines), human error (example car accidents), evil or incompetent governments, pollution, high prices, food shortages, etc. God is not doing this to us. We are just in circumstances which can injure us.

8. A direct, or indirect, attack by Satan, or demonic forces. In this case, we must put on the whole armor of God, submit to God, and resist the devil, and he will flee from us. The support of others is best, but sometimes we have to face this alone, to tear down and rebuild us into better servants of God. It can be a lonely situation. But in our patience, we will possess our final reward for overcoming the enemy.

9. In case of death, the good have been saved from a more evil time, where they would have lost their souls to that evil.

10. A direct test of faith for the believer, to bring them to a higher level, and an opportunity for God to show his power in their lives.

11. Prayerlessness. Since this is a fallen world, and attacks can come at any time, prayer is essential to ask for divine protection and blessings. If we neglect to maintain a strong connection with God in our daily lives, then this weakens our protection, as well as our own ability to respond well in a negative event. Staying close in prayer, and in the Word of God, is our defense. Then, we can use the Word as a spiritual sword to fight our circumstances. Once a week, at church, is not enough.

Do not be surprised at suffering

1Pe 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

1Pe 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

1Pe 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy [are ye]; for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

1Pe 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or [as] a thief, or [as] an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.

1Pe 4:16 Yet if [any man suffer] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

1Pe 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls [to him] in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

How do we respond?

1Ti 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

1Pe 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity [love] among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

1Pe 4:11 If any man speak, [let him speak] as the oracles of God; if any man minister, [let him do it] as of the ability which God gives: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Humility, and total abandonment of self to the will of God.

1Pe 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

1Pe 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.

1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:

1Pe 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle [you].

Set your eyes on the prize

Our true rewards are in heaven, not here. If we happen to experience a reward here, then it is just for us to use to glorify God, and serve Him. We must never give ourselves the credit for blessings. All good things come from God, and with God’s help, even attacks of the enemy can be converted into good results. .

When you have done everything you can do, just stand firm in your position with God, be patient, trust God, behave according to God’s rules, and go forward in confronting the problem.

We must learn to be tested, and suffer, so that our flesh will die, and the spirit can be purified.

We cannot expect to share in the joy of Christ’s resurrection, unless we also share in the fellowship of His sufferings.

You will know you have been purified (out of the flesh), when all you can feel is God’s pain, and not yours.

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16 Responses to “Why do good people suffer?”

  1. […] There are different definitions of  “goodness.” The standards we use define our answers. Click here for […]

  2. Good points, thanks. I’m just starting a series on Job on my Bible Study Blog and this will be a key theme.

  3. Thank you Neil

    God bless you, as you share the Word of God in your Bible study.

    blessings
    marianne

  4. None of us are without sin, even though we may have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior. Also we live in this world and are all subject to the pain, evil, tragedy that can occur here. We must depend on God to carry us through the times when we suffer.

    Debbie
    Right Truth

  5. Hi Debbie

    Thank you for your comments. I have been on your site. You are doing good work. May God carry us through the evil times we are in, and in the times to come.

    blessings
    marianne

  6. Thank you. I love meeting new friends via the blog. Keep up the good work here and don’t be a stranger.

    Debbie

  7. i dont know sometimes.
    i wonder why god gave me aspbergur syndrome. its makes me have days where i dont give a care. i just sit at home and i sit on the computer. jesus has always been a compusion.

    i just hope jesus’s blood is strong enough to save such a hypocrite, and sinner like me. my mental illness makes me sin.

  8. Dear Kyle,

    Do not give up. I know someone who had what you have and Jesus healed him. Jesus cares about you, and so do I.

    Jesus would never condemn you for being sick. An evil heart makes someone a sinner, not being sick.

    Feel free to write to me anytime you want. I will put you on my prayer list for healing. Many people are suffering now, because of the evil that is in the world.

    You sound like a sweet person. Just seek Jesus, read the bible, and keep your heart open to God.

    blessings
    marianne

  9. Man turned his back on G-d first. Now, we pay. Where were we when G-d laid down the foundation of creation? We have no right to complain. G-d did not give us our illness, or pain. We gave it to ourselves.

    It rains on the good, and the bad alike. That is why we must be ready to die any time of the day.

    Those who are sick, I feel sorry for you, and wish you G-d’s speed to get well. Try and remember G-d did not give illness to you. Adam, and Eve did by Satan’s lies.

  10. What awesome comments, all of you! Suffering is a really tough subject but it helps, to not waste a lot of energy trying to answer the “why’s”, but to trust God in spite of it all. I’ve been there too, and knowing that all things “come to pass” also helps. I’ve found that worshiping “harder” – w/ more focus and purpose helps, especially when I’m going thru ‘junk’ that is beyond my control.

  11. Hi Cindy,

    You are right. When we are hurting, we must focus on the positive and the Lord until it passes. Some things take a very long time, and do not resolve, like when illness ends in death. But our lives do not end there. Our lives are just beginning.

    blessings
    marianne

  12. “Suffering in the flesh can be good for us, because the flesh will die, and the spirit can be strengthened.” What do you mean by that? I mean suffering is not totally positive right? And to above, I agree that our lives are just the beginning because there are connection between start and finish. I’ve read something that is called “what really happens in afterlife” and I found that afterlife have six entries for example, there’s heaven, afterlife waiting room (I know what is the word but forgot it, it starts with a ‘p’), paradise, rebirth, hell, half half…i dunno, that’s just maybe not true but i just read it and it says that the feelings and the experiences are shared by the death of people who are telling us ‘living humans’ who might not know the experience of death and afterlife. Sorry if it’s too non-understandable…but i think it might be true anyways. Angels are not 100% spiritual, well, there might be some who are always near jesus. and in fact, angels are willing to be humans. like, when humans goes to heaven, their positions are higher than the angels who are not humans at the beginning.

  13. :(……

  14. I agree with MariAnne on sufferings. Believe me, I do know. I have suffered so many various ways in my childhood and adulthood.. Do I blame on God for that? No.. because I do know it is not HIS doing.. but Satan.. Since Satan is the prince of this world until God’s kingdom come to regin. Yes, I have my ups and downs emotions and thoughts like if I am rejected by God yet I still love him nevertheless.. It is a matter of depth in spiritual knowledge and connection.. Eh.. Let me put that way. I was molested by two different uncles and twice raped by other beside from my first previous marriage.. I had an abortion against my will that mark my soul for life. All differnt things. Right now, I had one serious surgery.. and had 8 bottles of pills.. that makes me pop 13 times a day for two years.. lol… those knock me out badly.. which isn’t good for my 3 children who needs me the most. Did that surgery help afterwards ? No.. I still suffer.. and cannot have pills anymore or I break out in rashes.. now I am licensed cannibal (smoke stuff) which is ONLY WAY that would help me. Did I blame on God also on all those ? No, I understood that it only strengthen me in spirit and given me some wisdoms thru God purposes… I hope that help you all for some insights 🙂 Am I mad at others for doing so wrong against me ? No. Not anymore. I forgave them all and bless them even if they curse me 🙂
    Bless you all. May God watch you all over and guide you through the life and protect you all. Much love to you all.

    Tamera

  15. The enemy has conspired against this great God fearing nation and the nations of the earth:

    -There is none to stand in the gap and intercede for the people of the Lord. All seek their own gain. People roam over the mountains like sheep without a Sheppard. But the Lord God of Hosts will not allow the mischief of the evil one.

    -The people relied on Corporate America for an unfailing check and have not prepared for these times. Corporate America became greedy, therefore transferring all the work the people had to places where they can profit not a 100% but over a 1000% if possible. They used the people to extract the sketches of what it took to build this great nation. Your children engineered the trains, the factories, the mining machines. Yet all has been taken, and the people are left to be slaves to greed and be consumed.

    -The Government needs complimentary support we can provide. Governance is countered by selfish interests, legal manipulation and corruption. Blindly and unwilling they have been used in the exodus of Jobs, manufacturing and wealth to greener pastures.
    Where there is no vision the people perish. The country suffers for lack of knowledge to decipher the times. Where is the Church, the Body of Christ, and the Leadership of the Church?

    -Church arise encourage the people. The state does not want to stand with you but you can stand for the People. Provide Manufacturing skills, help reopen factories, restore trade with developing countries. Quit criticizing the Government; use the little support they provide grow the country. “Occupy till I come” said the Lord Jesus Christ, engage for God’s sake.
    Watch what you listen in the News-media; Despite our advanced education, there has never been a people so misinformed as ours. Distortion of facts and control of knowledge as this is worst than Communist propaganda in the Cold War era.

    -Help the people with raw material procurement, import and exporting. The world still buys and sells, or else China would not still be in business, we alone willow in politics and speculative financial demagogies. You can still afford homes, if only there were jobs and home values were not manipulated. China prizes our products, Africa, Asia and Mediterranea still need what we make, and Europe wants a competitor.

    -Gather your strength, resources and knowledge. For the sake of the body of Christ, the Land and the People we will provide engineers, researchers and developers in any field there is. Engage for sake of the people. Contact us: vpinc@mail.com

  16. Looking at the last picture. I thought “Poor Jesus how much he suffered, it must have been terrible nailed to the cross”. You can’t imagine the suffering of it.

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