Why Does God Allow Suffering?  
updated 7/16/07, 10/23/07, 11/08/07, 1/09/08

Introduction - Why do we suffer?

Everyone suffers in life. Some suffer more than others. Suffering is an inescapable part of life. Many people go through life without understanding the meaning of suffering. People simply ask, "Why is this happening to me?" Sometimes we feel helpless becase we cannot change the outcomes of bad situations or circumstances. We sometimes try to make sense of suffering as we go through a grieving process. (1)

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Some suffering, especially the suffering of innocents, raises questions which are difficult to answer sometimes.

God does not cause misfortune upon his children, but He allows them to happen.


God wants you to know that He is with you in your sufferings and adversities. Although you cannot see Him, He offers guidance, comfort, wisdom and strength through His people, the Body of Christ, the Church.

Suffering is an opportunity to draw closer to God in dealing with life.

Instead of asking God to explain Himself for the way misfortune unfolds, suffering is an opportunity for us to put our trust in Him (4).

God Permits Suffering

Suffering is a reality in life that we all have to face. If we really want the truth, then we can't refuse to face suffering for what it is (1). The reality of suffering is that God permits it for a reason.

God permits suffering to take place in our lives because He wants more for you than a shallow and untested existence (1). God doesn't just want to be a shelter you run to every time you're in need (1). God's Will is that our love for Him becomes perfected. The Saints are a great testament to this for their love for God was perfected through their sufferings. God knows that through extraordinary difficulty and pain we begin to realize what really matters most in life, and that is love.

We suffer for a reason, and that reason is to be like Jesus.

Father Corapi said,
"How is Gold made more valuable?" "How are the impurities removed from Gold?"
"It's through the Fire!"

"How is steel shaped and made stronger?"
"It's through the Fire!"

Suffering here on earth is like that fire that burns away our impurities and imperfections. It can shape us. We become stronger in the process because we begin to see what is important in life. How can we change the nature of our pain? How can we change the way we deal with suffering in our lives? We can learn to trust God.

The greatest evil became the greatest good.

For our salvation, Jesus Christ offerred Himself as the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus, the Lamb of God, . . . the redemption of the whole human race, is the key to our salvation. If we come to understand the Passion of Jesus Christ, then we will come to find redemptive value in our own sufferings as well. If we join our sufferings with the Passion of Jesus Christ, then our sufferings take on different dimension, which is redemptive value in suffering.

The Apostle Paul said: "In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church"(Col 1:24). The Apostle Paul declared this because He knew that we, the people of God, the Body of Christ, can cooperate in Christ's salvation by patiently bearing the trials that God sends us (6).

When we suffer, we can become like our head, Jesus Christ (6).

The Christian Response

No matter what the cause of our suffering, God waits for our response (1). Will you let suffering disable you? Will you allow them to paralyze you so that you can't move, or act, or laugh again? (1). No! God wants you to grow strong in your suffering.

Accepting our trials and pain and suffering with grace is the hardest thing in life (1). Knowing that God is with you every moment and bringing good out of it all takes a continuous act of Faith, Hope, and Love.

Following the life and Passion of Jesus is not easy.
Matt 7:14
[14] For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

As difficult as it is, we must have courage in our suffering (1)

Trusting God

Trusting in God during our dark hours when everything seems to be slipping through our fingers is not easy (1).
We cannot trust in God without the spiritual companions of Faith, Hope, and Love (1). We should always ask God to give us the grace of Faith, Hope, and Love to help during our times of suffering (1).

Faith - Faith is the evidence of things unseen, the realization of things hoped for. Hebrews 11:1
Hope -
Love - bears all things. Cor 13

As hard as it is to comprehend, you must realize that God loves you more than you love yourself (1). And realizing that He loves you that much, you can accept, with confidence, that there is a purpose, a holy, exalted purpose, in all things that God ordains or permits (1).

As Christians, we are called to resemble Jesus. Jesus did not shrug off His Suffering; He did not pretend that everything was all right when the world was jeering at Him (1). Nor did He question the Father's motives in allowing Him to experience that humiliation. Jesus knew that His Heavenly Father permitted His Suffering for a higher purpose. Jesus did not deny His Suffering, because He knew it was willed by God (1).

""Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done." And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. " Luke 22:42-44

Uniting Our Will & Suffering To Jesus Christ

As Catholics, we are taught to "offer up" our sufferings to Jesus. This means we can unite our sufferings to the Sufferings of Jesus. He suffered on the Crosss for the Sins of Mankind, and He continues to Suffer for the sins of the world that continue until the end of time.

Once you accept that you can share your suffering with Jesus through Faith, Hope, and Love, as a means of growing in holiness, then you become like Jesus every day (1). God loves in a speacial way those who resemble His Son the most(1). Jesus was at His best from the Agony in the Garden until His Death (1). He showed us that we could weep and still have courage (1). He showed us that we could suffer and still be united to God's will (1).
In your suffering, you are uniquely blessed with a chance to imitate Him (1).

We have a choice to make

There is nothing that pleases Satan more than to see all of God's children confused and resentful about the suffering in their lives (1). Satan doesn't want you to gain grace and transformation from suffering; he wants you to rebel against God in defeat, to give up, and to throw away your potential for holiness(1).

But you have a choice. You can play into the hands of Satan and become hateful and bitter in your suffering - or you can grow holy and Christ-like.
"Nothing that is worthwhile comes easily"

God knows you can be burned and broken and shaped and molded into a soul of extraordinary beauty (1). If you put your heart and soul in God's Mercy, you will overcome whatever it is that you now face or will face, with a peace and serenity that will give endless meaning in your life (1).

The time to work on holiness is now. Sometimes life is rotten, and God permits it. Your feelings towards sufferings may not change, but hopefully this talk will help change your perception and response to your sufferings. Just keep in mind that God does not cause suffering on your life, but He wants you to know that He is with you during those times. Suffering can produce a closer relationship between you and God, because it is an opportunity to rely on Him for all your needs.


Summarize Points

Salvifici doloris

["It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms souls. Suffering, more than anything else, makes present in the history of humanity the force of the Redemption" (Pope John Paul II, Salvifici doloris, 27)] (5).


(1) Mother Angelica's Answers, Not Promises. Mother M. Angelica with Christine Allison. Ignatius Press, San Francisco 1996. Pg. 65

(2) "Why Must I Suffer?" Rev. F.J. Remler, C.M. Loretto Publications 2003 Fitzwilliam, NH

(3) "If God is good . .. Why Is There Evil, Pain, and Suffering?" , Fr. John Corapi, SOLT. 2002 Santa Cruz Media, Inc.

(4) Why Do Innocents Suffer? Internet Tract : http://www.suite101.com/discussion.cfm/unsolved_mysteries/79561#message_1 by CWhitaker

(5) Salvifici doloris - Apostolic Letter of the late Pope John Paul II, Feb. 11, 1984.

(6) Navarre Bible Commentary on Colossians 1:24

Back to Index