Why do good people suffer?
Consider some facts relating to life in the United States.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 425,000 American children are living in foster homes. Obviously, broken homes are not rare.
How about this sad statistic? The National Cancer Institute reports that 1,800,000 new cases of cancer were reported last year. New cases!
And did you know that 6,344,000 adults are incarcerated in prisons and jailhouses in the US? That’s what the U.S. Department of Justice reports.
Lastly, consider a world-wide statistic. According to the United Nations, twenty-five thousand people die of starvation daily. Do the math ... seventeen people die every minute! (It took me 2 minutes to do the calculation... 34 people starved to death.)
If God is loving and powerful, how can these things be? Is there justice in the world? Is God omnipotent and sovereign, or has He lost His grip?
Why do good people suffer? To answer this philosophical question, let’s begin by considering two Biblical truths.
First, people aren’t good. To ask the question: Why do GOOD people suffer? assumes that people are good and therefore deserve to be free of suffering. The Bible says, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
Secondly, the Bible says that we live in a fallen world. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, the just wrath of God was poured out upon sin. God spoke to Eve saying, “I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children with painful effort. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). God promised suffering and strife.
Then God spoke to Adam saying, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust” (Genesis 3:17-19). God promised suffering, struggles, and death.
Let’s close with some good news. God is just... but He is also gracious! In fact, He is “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3) and He clearly “proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Jesus warned His followers about trials and tribulation and then offered His loving comfort saying, “Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:12).
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.