Ask a friar… Suffering


How could a loving and all-powerful God allow suffering?


God seems to permit suffering.  Yet no matter the evil, God makes good come out of it.  “All things work for good for those who love God” (Rom 8:28).  We see this especially in the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  The greatest man ever to live, who lived His entire life without fault or sin, was tortured and killed, dying a slow, painful death.  That is a terrible evil.  Yet from that suffering, look at the great things God has accomplished through Christianity.  Think of all the souls whose sins were forgiven and were brought into eternal union with God in Heaven.

God can and does bring greater good out of suffering.  That often isn’t a satisfying answer, especially when we can’t see or understand the good occurring.  Still we can ask, why can’t God make good occur without suffering?


We can find insights in chapter 38 of the Book of Job.  Job has questioned the Lord as to why he is suffering so much.  God replies,


“Who is this who darkens counsel with words of ignorance? . . . I will question you, and you tell me the answers!  Where were you when I founded the earth?  Tell me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its size?  Surely you know?  . . . Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place? . . . Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?  Tell me, if you know it all.”


Our God made the entire universe and commands the forces of nature.  He knows and understands every single atom throughout all space and time.  And the Lord told us that “all things work for good” (Romans 8:28).  The Lord is infinitely more intelligent than I am; He sees the entirety of existence in a single glance, and He has a plan.  If He tells me all things work for good, who am I to question His infinite wisdom?


At the end of the day, an act of faith is required.  All we can do is trust in Him, trust that He knows what He is doing, trust that He will make good come out of evil, trust that He will help us along our way.  The more we trust in Him rather than ourselves, the more peace and joy we find as we discover Him working throughout our lives, in the good and the bad.


God loves us and wants us to live with Him in eternal light, peace, and happiness.  Throughout life, He constantly gives us opportunities to learn about and love Him.  We don’t usually understand what He does or why.  A goal of our lives is to accept that God does love us, that He is infinitely wise, and that all things work toward the good, if we allow God to work in our lives.  When we do surrender ourselves to God and His purpose, we learn to live in the peace and joy He offers.