Suffering: Why Does God Allow It?

By   •   November 30, 2007   •   Topics:

God is still there despite any tragedy you may be experiencing. But why does God allow suffering?

On Nov. 21, 1980, when the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas burned, survivors were brought into the Convention Center, where our Crusade meetings were being held. In an interview, Governor Robert List talked about the good times at the MGM only 24 hours before. “And how quickly,” he said, “the music has stopped.”

Some day, for all of you, if you don’t know God, the music will stop. It will all be over. The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

The Bible says that Job suddenly lost all of his wealth and his children. The devil said to God, “If You take all those possessions away from him, he’ll curse You and turn from You.” But God replied, “You can do anything to him, except you can’t kill him, and then we’ll see” (Cf. Job 1:11-12).

Job never asked why those things were happening to him. The closest he ever came was when he said, “Show me why You contend with me” (Job 10:2). Job was sharing his agony of spirit with the very God he could not understand.

Suffering carries a message of mystery. The Bible says, “Great is the mystery of godliness” (1 Timothy 3:16). When I was asked to explain the tragedy of the fire at the MGM Grand Hotel, I had to say, “There’s a mystery to tragedies like this. We don’t know the answer.” And we may never know until God explains all things to us.

For humans, there is a mystery as to why God created the earth. There is a mystery as to why He put people on this earth. But God has revealed answers through the Bible and through the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. In the Bible you will find the answers to the questions and the problems of your life.

But man rebelled against God. Man said, “I don’t need You, God. I can build my world without You.” God said, “If you take that position, you will suffer and die.” Man took that position, and he began to suffer, and he has been dying ever since. Physical death is just the death of the body, but the spirit lives on. If your spirit is separated from God for eternity, it will be lost forever.

The Bible teaches that Satan is the author of sin. Sin is the reason that we have afflictions, including death. All of our problems and our suffering, including death itself, are a result of man’s rebellion against God. But God has provided a rescue in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. That’s why Christ died on the cross. That’s why He rose from the dead.


In suffering there is also a message of compassion. Jesus said, “for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me” (Matthew 25:35-36).

As fire swept through the MGM Grand Hotel, I saw the emergency crews, the military people, The Salvation Army, the Red Cross, the doctors, the nurses and the people coming to donate clothes and food. I saw compassion in action.

In suffering there is a message of unity. Jesus prayed “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You” (John 17:21). And that’s the way we ought to be as Christians, one in Christ. If you have been born into the family of God, you are a child of God. You are brothers and sisters.

Suffering holds a message of comfort. In Second Corinthians we read:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Because tragedy happened to you, it gives you a greater sense of oneness with others who experience tragedy. You can feel for them in that suffering situation. Because we have been comforted through the Word of God, we in turn may be able to comfort others.

What should be our attitude toward suffering?

First, it should be one of worship. We ought to say, “O God, I believe You are the great and mighty God. I don’t understand all the things that are happening in my life, but, O God, I trust in You.”

Second, we should ask God to teach us all He would have us learn about Him, about ourselves, about others and how we can minister to those who are suffering.

Third, our attitude in suffering should glorify God. People are going to watch us as Christians. They will ask, “How is it that Christ is so in control of his or her life that he or she was able to help others?”

Jesus suffered and died for us on the cross, but God raised Him from the dead. Jesus Christ now sits at the right hand of God the Father, and He sees our suffering. He sees our life every day and knows exactly where we stand.

The Bible teaches that we are to be patient in suffering. That’s the hardest thing of all, to be patient, to have songs in the night. Ask God to help you have a trusting, patient attitude, and flee from bitterness.

In suffering there is also, I believe, a message of warning. Are you prepared to meet God? What do you have to do to be ready? God took the initiative in giving His Son, Jesus Christ. God says, “I love you. I want to forgive you. I want you to go to heaven.” But you must respond to Him. Find hope, peace, and security today.


Do You Need God’s Love in Your Life?

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  1. sand says:

    I believe there is Jesus, but I don’t believe that he can do things he says. Why are kids murdered or die of cancer? Why so many people pray to be healed only to die of a horrible disease? Good people suffer from no fault of their own. Why do people who never mention Jesus prosper and live a long happy life while Christians seem to have the worst luck? Someone explain, cause nothing makes sense to me.

  2. Woodrow Walker says:

    Thank you, it helped me to understand a little more.

  3. Darock says:

    God is always there. He gave us wisdom and strength to tackle any obstacles that come before us. It is really up to us, not God, to handle and figure it out. That’s what makes us a better person and stronger emotionally and spiritually. Don’t just give up and let God figure it out for you. Figure it out on your own and find ways to adjust. If you hit rock bottom, then there’s only one way and that is moving up. Pray but don’t rely on God to do a miracle for you. Only you can make that happen. If you pray everyday but you just sat your rear at home, nothing is gong to happen. Just move on and get it done.

  4. SVN says:

    Nearly three months ago my previous daughter was born at 25 weeks and 5 days gestation and weighed 1lb 11.9oz. Our beautiful Piper already had the odds stacked against her… At 7 days her little intestines perforated and despite everyone’s best efforts my beautiful baby died in my arms at 8 days old. I am so depressed and try to keep going for my 5yo and husband but I am so lost… I know that things happen to us because we are human and with that comes pain and illness. I just don’t know how I am supposed to go on with my chin up knowing that Piper is gone and horrible amd irresponsible people continue to have babies that they can’t take care of. Being human sucks! I will embrace her one day in His presence!

    1. Eunice says:

      Dear SVN, I’m so sorry for your loss and understand what you are going through. Our sweet Vivian went to heaven on May 10th, 2017 after being with us in the NICU for 52 days. I pray that you are continuing to find peace and comfort in that one day (many, many years from now) you will be reunited with your beautiful Piper. Even though I have faith in God and trust in Him, I still struggle with why the innocent suffer just like Job did. Grief comes in waves and some days are good and others are bad. Just like you, I try every day to live for my son and husband. But also I try for Vivian to do things that would make her proud. I know that Piper and Vivian are healed and in the loving arms of Jesus. Thanks for sharing your Piper with us.

  5. Jacob Kines says:

    I believe that we all suffer from time to time and in many different ways but our only hope is in Jesus Christ, the same today, yesterday and forever more, thank you Billy Graham and Franklin for your ever ending work for the Lord. It was one of your books 18 years ago that was a steping stone to my salvation, thank you

  6. Tony says:

    Well I really don’t understand any of this anymore. I have prayed and my prayer has no answer. I don’t understand. I just want God to Love me.

    1. Jamie says:

      Tony, I have no idea what u r going through but I do know/believe without any doubt that God loves u. He has already “showed up” and proved that to u by the gift of salvation through His son. If u have children just imagine what u would do if they were in danger. I can say that I would lay my life down for another but if it came to my babies….no way! They would always come first. So God’s decision was for all of us and He loves u more than anyone could. Keep praying and keep your eyes open and I know that u will see Him.

  7. Nancy says:

    Hi. I’m struggling to understand why isGod allowing too many deaths here lately. Is this revelation 6 or 8 about taking out 1/3 or 1/4 of the earth? Please help me. I trust God but I don’t trust my flesh and my thinking.

  8. Kathy says:

    I’ve been suffering from depression on and off my entire life. Just last year I was hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. I’m sad all the time and cry every day. I beg God to release me of all these horrible feelings emotions and thoughts. I wish it would end. I just want to be happy again. I cry out and pray to Jesus everyday. Please pray for me

    1. Rebecca says:

      I feel for you. I am in the same boat. I just got out of a psychiatric hospital last week.

  9. Thomas Elofsky says:

    Why is God dead silent?? No word from saints or the billions that died before us. In addition he doesn’t answer prayer, and can’t feel his presence anywhere on earth.

    1. BGEA says:

      Thomas, thank you for your comment. We’re glad you reached out. We forwarded your message to our team so we can respond as soon as possible.

  10. Jerry says:

    I was abused big time when I was a baby. I was tied to my crib, beaten and nearly killed by my ma. And my dad saw my head smashed open yet he did nothing I was put in a boys reform school for 5 years and was kicked out.. the parole board said I didn’t belong there. Not one letter in 5 years, not one visit. Went into the navy was nearly killed- I saved 2 mates. I took the hit, one of my guys was killed that day. My old man never called-came to see me. He hated me so bad he couldn’t even say it. When I came home he never even helped me I was homeless-scared. My dad had a lot of money yet nothing just hate for me, only God knows why. I been a volunteer for 38 years now. They gave me a bag of food and a blanket. I earned many top awards over the years. I believe in God’s law.