Why does God let us suffer so?

Genesis chapter 3 provides an enlightening glimpse as to why a loving God allows suffering, because it looks like God meant Adam and Eve to suffer. First he creates a tree, the fruit of which when eaten would expose Adam and Eve to evil, and then God lets a serpent loose on them to tempt them into eating it.

Result? Adam and Eve suffer. And every human has suffered since too, “For God has bound ALL men over to disobedience.” God lets evil have its way with all of us – for a reason, though – “so that he may have mercy on them all,” Romans 11:32.

It’s a hard concept to grasp, a loving God allowing us to suffer so we understand his mercy, but God longs for a relationship with us that will last happily for eternity, and here we see how he does it. He does it in two ways – through suffering and mercy.

Suffering plays its part in showing us what destroys our relationship with God: It’s the overwhelming power of evil. That’s what destroyed Adam and Eve’s relationship with God. But the only way any of us wake up to evil being real and lethal is experiencing it, and the suffering it creates. It’s heartbreaking having to watch young people come to that realization, but God went through that heartbreak with his beloved Israel too, because the school of hard knocks is the only way we humans realize we’re no match for evil on our own strength.

But having experienced the heartache and broken relationships caused by evil, and we’re ready at last to admit how easily evil overwhelms us, God is ready and waiting with mercy, just as loving parents are ready and waiting to hug a foolish child.

So it’s after we’ve learnt what destroys our relationship with God that God then teaches us what restores our relationship with him. It’s his mercy. God welcomes us with open arms when we seek his forgiveness and help. You’d think he’d want nothing to do with us after what we’ve done, but he longs for relationship with us, just as parents long for relationship with their foolish, rebellious children.

And that’s the message God would love people to hear, that he “was reconciling the (whole) world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them,” 2 Corinthians 5:19. God holds none of our stupidity or weakness against us. And there is joy in heaven when a hurting, wounded child of God comes to that staggering realization and believes it, because it’s the understanding of God’s amazing mercy that helps us realize at last how much he loves us.

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