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.


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  1. Denise Mauriello says:

    Thanks Mr. Graham. People always ask me this question. I answer it the best I can. God bless you.

  2. Luanne M. Veale says:

    This article is excellent. It is exactly what I was looking for to help a friend and relative.

  3. Poch Suzara says:

    Praying is like rocking a chair. It will help you do something, but it won’t get you anywhere.

  4. Daniela says:

    I loved this! People at my school are asking these age old questions. I wanted to be secure about what to tell them tomorrow which is why I told them I don’t know and I’ll read and search about it. This was the first link and I’m glad it was. This was helpful. I’ll comment about tomorrow! Praise Jesus who works in mysterious ways! Thank you!

  5. Steven Guinn says:

    Please continue to pray for me.

  6. Grace Evans says:

    I have suffered most of my life since I was a child. It seems like no matter what I do or keep my faith, life just gets worse. I question why. I don’t want to give up on my faith. I feel like I have no more hope in life. I know we were never promised a rainbow life but I would never believe that one person could have so much pain in my life. I have lived through abuse, pain, loneliness and without. Been homeless. I go without food all the time. This has gone on for years. Yes I question why this happens and why God does not help. I don’t want to give up my faith in God. I don’t want to question why God does not help me. I pray but I don’t know if God is listening. This cannot be what life should be like. I just need prayers.

    1. Sondra says:

      Grace – how can I help you? Can I give you a gift card for food? There is such pain in going hungry.

    2. Kendra says:

      I’m praying for you Grace!

    3. Arthur Fletcher says:

      Grace, I praise God for your strength and testimony. Thanks for sharing. God loves you so much and wants to spend eternity with you. I pray you continue to purse Him faithfully!

  7. Holly says:

    Stay strong, if you continue to have faith, your time will come, you will be rewarded in the next life for sure. People forget that this life is just temporary. The next one is forever!

  8. Lester Townsend Jr. says:


  9. Michael Reidy says:

    Suffering is one of those things that nobody wants to do. Jesus suffered and through His suffering He learned obedience. Nearly all the saints suffered. Does God allow his children to suffer? Many preachers teach suffering is not God’s will for your life. I believe there is much learned by suffering. I’m talking about suffering you have little control over. I’m not referring to suffering for something stupid we did. There is another suffering. There is a righteous endurance of pain. Doing what God commands will sometimes cause emotional pain. Look at Abraham who prepared to sacrifice his son. Abraham obeyed. Paul endured physical pain as did many of the saints before us. Look at Job. To remain faithful in pain is honorable.

  10. cecelia taylor says:

    I’m homeless, living in a shelter where every day I fear I will be forced to leave. I’m a 57-year-old female. My grown daughters have turned against me and I feel so alone. Years ago, I received a prophetic message at church that God was going to give me breakthroughs in major areas of my life. And I keep waiting, asking Him if he’s forgotten me. Prayers please.

    1. Michael Reidy says:

      Dear Cecelia, I can only imagine what breakthroughs you are praying for. I hope you are reading the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Their words and stories will ease your mind and allow you to take control of your thoughts and calm the fears that rage within. Jesus said, read about me, learn about me, cast your cares on Him. Before an outward change, there is an inward change. An inward growth. An inward peace. I pray God will show you your next step. That He will show you a vision for your sense of purpose and direction. Wake up early and be ready. Opportunity will rise. Be ready.

    2. RAMEY says:

      I really enjoyed reading about suffering as I have been suffering quite awhile. I know God is in control so I just ask for prayer & keep praying myself. I will pray for the homeless lady & I understand the pain of a daughter turning against you! Jesus be with us all & the pain in Las Vegas!

    3. Carole Weber says:

      Cecelia, I am praying for you and me. I am having trouble being patient waiting on my God to soften my daughter’s heart. And you are not alone Cecelia, not ever. Jesus is carrying you always. Believe that. I do.

    4. Ruth says:

      Cecilia I am praying for you.

    5. Dayvyd Lytzóg says:

      My dear sister, fear not! God loves you very much. It may not seem like it, but He does! Nothing in all creation is able to separate us from the love of Christ (see Romans 8). Jesus is with us even to the end of the age, and more so, He has provided the church to come around one another and support one another. I know what it is like to put hope in a prophecy that never comes to fruition, I used to do this all the time. However, once I began to seek God and pray about it, I realized that many of the prophets I had been listening to were declaring lies because what they said ran contrary to God’s Word. You have to be very careful because many modern day people who call themselves prophets don’t actually speak from God.