All the books and articles I have ever read on suffering seem to be addressing the reader as if he or she is the one doing the suffering, even books written by parents who’s children have suffered and died!
I can understand why God might allow a person to suffer the consequences of their own sins. I can understand that God allows people to suffer because He’s teaching them some sort of lesson, or He’s refining them, or making them more like Him.
I will admit that I have complained, whined, cried, and even been so bold as to yell at God because I want Him to stop Bethany from physically assaulting me.
I will also admit that Bethany’s violent outbursts, public temper tantrums, relentless obsessive compulsiveness, extreme insomnia, and being forced to listen to the same Barney DVD’s for the past 16 years has at times been excruciatingly uncomfortable.
But still, I do not consider myself to be the one who has suffered.
I am not the one who has endured the endlessly painful tortures and traumas of brain cancer treatments. I am not the one who lives with the constant fear and uncertainty of when the next seizure may strike. I am not the one who is a slave to never ending routines and rituals.
So, Why does God let anyone suffer?
In the Bible we learn that Paul suffered with a “thorn in his flesh”. This thorn may have been a physical affliction.
In 2 Corinthians we see that he also suffered whippings, beatings, shipwrecks, starvation, exposure to the elements, and an assortment of all kinds of other dangerous situations.
Paul suffered a lot.
He believed that his sufferings were a preparation for the Glory that was awaiting him and that his suffering was really just a short time on earth compared to experiencing an eternity of glory in heaven.
In 2 Corinthians: 14- “For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
We learn in the Book of Job that God allows even good people to suffer and that not all suffering is the punishment for sin.
Speaking to Satan in Job 1:8- God asks him, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him: he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
After a brief discussion about Job, God gives Satan permission to make him suffer. At the end of all that suffering God pretty much tells us that we do not have the right to question what He does and does not allow!
Psalm 5:45b confirms that even good people will suffer. “He (God) causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
John 9:3 confirms that not all suffering is caused by sin. Speaking about a man born blind Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, But this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
I have accepted and come to peace with the fact that:
o God has used Bethany’s experiences with suffering to refine me, change me for the better, and shape who I am today.
o Sometimes for reasons known only to Him, God allows and even causes people, including sweet and innocent children to suffer.
o Suffering can be, but is not always a punishment for sin.
o Sometimes suffering happens as a natural consequence to some action on our part.
o Sometimes suffering happens so that God will be glorified.
o I will never understand this side of heaven why God has allowed my daughter (or anyone else for that matter) to suffer.
o Sometimes shit just happens and we must continue to trust God even when our hearts are breaking and we do not understand.
I have chosen to hold on to the hope that God does have a purpose and good reason for allowing Bethany to suffer.
I have chosen to hold on to the hope of heaven where there is no suffering, pain, or illness.
In heaven we will be able to ask Jesus face to face why He let Bethany suffer.
In heaven Bethany will suffer no more and she will receive the most magnificent, majestic, and glorious reward for her momentary time of suffering on this earth!
In heaven we will finally understand God’s reasoning for allowing suffering in the world, and know that it was all for some great and wondrous purpose.
I have chosen to hold onto all this hope because without it, I could not bear to live!