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Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Aug 14, 2008
Why does God allow suffering? This is the age-old question of Christians and non-Christians alike, and it's unlikely to be answered to anyone's satisfaction this side of heaven. Even though I'm just an ordinary guy, I'd like to take a stab at it.

Most people want to be able to have money to pay for their kids college, enough to pay bills and go on vacation once a year. They want to be happy and not have problems. They want to have good health. I'm no different than everyone else. Doesn't it make sense that God would want the same for us? I don't think He necessarily does, because He wants more than that for us!

Larry Crabb has written many highly-acclaimed books including "Finding God", "Inside Out", and "The Marriage Builder". In addition to being a best-selling author, Dr. Crabb is a psychologist and counselor. I've read several of his books. They are all very good, but some of them are kind of hard to follow because they are written at a very deep level.

I read a book by Larry Crabb recently that was quite different from the other's that I've read by him before. This book was called "Shattered Dreams - God's Unexpected Pathway to Joy", and I think it was different because it was something that Dr. Crabb had personally experienced and very intimately touched him. The book was much easier to follow, in my opinion, than the others I had read by him.

In "Shattered Dreams", Dr. Crabb explains that happiness and joy are not the same thing, and although most of us want happiness, God actually knows that this isn't the best for us. We believe that it's important to have plenty of money, good health, a nice car or house, a happy family, and so forth.

What God really wants for us is to have joy. While that may include happiness, it doesn't mean it has to. In fact, the Bible does say that as we like to give good things to our children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him! So why doesn't he always give us those things? It's because sometimes they hinder us from experiencing the true joy of knowing Him.

However, quite often when we have the happiness, we either become content or we get so wrapped up in keeping that happiness intact that we don't see the need to find the time for that relationship with God. It is in these times that God might allow some pain to come into our life to draw us closer to him. It's at these times that many of us tend to do what we can to minimize that pain, basically because it hurts!

Dr. Crabb writes in "Shattered Dreams" that we need to feel that pain, which might include mourning and grieving, to encounter God. It's only in the middle of these tribulations, and when we get through them, that we are able to find the true joy that we seek in our heart and that God wants us to have. While it's not any fun to go through this pain, Larry asserts that this is the only way we will experience true joy. This, I believe, is the reason that God allows suffering and why bad things happen to good people.
About the Author
Matt Hellstrom is a husband and father of five wonderful adopted children. Here are some tips for effective parenting skills that Matt has discovered in the last 15 years. You can learn his feelings about why God allows suffering.
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