Here are three reasons I have thought of for this suffering, along with verses from the Bible that show how God’s people (Jews and Christians) have handled adversity in the past…
God gave us free will
If God said that, “If you believe in me, you will never suffer again”, he would be taking away this free will. Why? Think about it… If every Christian was perfectly happy and never had any problems, and every non-Christian was miserable and unhappy, every sane person would be Christian. This system takes away all real free will. Christians must face all of the same trials as non-Christians (including the death of children & spouses, financial hardships…). What should provide the difference between the Christian and non-Christian is the way that we deal with these tragedies and problems in our lives.
Who do you think appreciates
having food more, the person who has always had enough or the person who is starving? Who appreciates money more, the person who has always had enough or the person who has always been poor? We cannot appreciate something until we have done without it. It is our trials that show us who we are, and give us strength. If God made it so that his people never had problems, we would be weak people with no appreciation of the true love and mercy of God.
A similar question is why do people die?
If people lived forever, and children were born, eventually the Earth would fill up, and there would be no room to move. Everyone would eventually be crushed, and for all eternity would be standing in the same place. Currently, the only way to allow for change and growth; for different stages of life (such as child and parent) is to have death.
Now let’s see what the Bible tells us about suffering…
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
In this passage, Paul and Silas, two of the earliest Christian missionaries, had been severely beaten and arrested. Most people would have been upset about this, but these men were singing and giving praises to God. When God opened their doors, they stayed where they were. This showed the guard the difference between the happiness of Christians as opposed to the happiness of others. Christians can be glad even during hard times, because they know those hard times are temporary. Immediately after these verses, the prison guard was saved.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
1 Peter 3:14-19
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison