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Why Does God Allow Suffering?
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For years I have wondered why God allows His people to endure tough, and sometimes tragic, times. When infirmity or other trials strike, it is easy for those affected and those around them to ask the pressing question, "Why?" This age-old question is especially predominant during times of great strife, suffering and despair. If God is all knowing, kind and merciful, how is it that at times He allows His people to suffer with seemingly insurmountable, even devastating, situations?
Why does God allow suffering?
Sometimes God allows His people to endure much for the sake of fortitude, even as we call upon Him for help and sustenance. Pain, serious illness, disability, abject poverty and failure all readily come to mind as things that God allows us to endure - Things that propel us to call upon His Holy Name. Could the answer to why God allows such trials be found in the following Holy Scripture passage?
"As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.'" - John 9:1-3
In the Old Testament, the practice of blaming the sick and their families was prevalent. This was the sort of blaming that was intrinsic to early biblical times. But in as much as Jesus came to die for us all in expiation for our sins, He has said that By His stripes, we are healed. In this New Testament Scripture, Jesus is boldly telling us the reason for infirmity and, presumably, other trials, thus the reason He gives for the blind man's plight is "That the works of God might be displayed in him."
But what does this mean?
When one has an infirmity or a disability, God may or may not choose to heal them despite their own fervent prayers for healing and intercessory prayers of others. We all know people who have not been healed of various things despite the pleas of many on their behalf -- Cancer, cardiac disease, head trauma, mental illness, hepatitis, addiction, neuro-immune disorders and the list goes on and on. Some may dispute this fact saying that Jesus heals everyone, but that is simply not true. Despite repeated prayers for healing, many of the saints suffered with various forms of infirmities and/or disabilities. Even St Paul had what he described as "a thorn," which many believe was some sort of mind or body illness. In essence, however, the above passage tells us that that a person's faith, witnessed by others, may be the true reason that God does not heal them fully as they have requested.
It is easy to give God the glory when times are good, we are in our comfort zone and all is well. But it is profound grace and a life-giving witness to give God glory during trials and adversity.
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"'Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.'"
For others to watch someone struggling with infirmity and disability, who is concurrently grateful to God, is a divine experience. It is a blessing to both the person affected and to those around that person as well. Unlike in the Old Testament, the New Testament does not condemn the sick as devoid of faith, nor is it steeped in familial or personal sin. Instead, the New Testament explains how sometimes infirmity is allowed by God as a sublime opportunity to give Him the glory He so rightly deserves.
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