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Does God allow pain and suffering or is it our free will?

Rescue workers work to save people trapped under debris after an earthquake in Ercis, near the eastern Turkish city of Van, early October 24, 2011. More than 200 people were killed and hundreds more feared dead on Monday after an earthquake struck parts of southeast Turkey, where rescue teams worked through the night to try to free survivors crying for help from under rubble. |

I admire the believers who’ve never questioned why God allows suffering because I have to admit, I’ve directed my attention to the heavens and cried out, asking God the reasons we endure pain. There have been times that life felt like it was too much to bear, and I wondered why an all-powerful, merciful God would allow us to experience such hurt and devastation.

From losing my mother to cancer to my husband’s painful knee injury to the countless children around the world suffering from incurable illnesses, my heart has cried out so many times I’ve lost count.

Non-believers, too, have questioned God’s power because they wonder why Christians would praise Him when our world is plagued with disease, war, heartbreak, poverty, famine and many other tragic issues.

Well, the truth is — the fingers pointing at God and questioning His power are pointing in the wrong direction.

The Bible reminds us that God “saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31), but when Eve bit the forbidden fruit and shared the apple with her husband, they began to reap the consequences of disobedience. It was mankind that defied God’s rules and bit the fruit of evil which paved the way for suffering to enter the world.

You see, God allows us to have free choice, and with choice comes consequence.

As a child, my mom warned me not to touch a hot stove because if I touch a hot stove, I will get burned. Well, I touched the stove anyway, and what do you know — I got burned. Badly. Similarly, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, and their consequences were deadly.

From the beginning of time, disobedience has led to suffering. Suffering is a result of sin, whether our own sins or the sins of others, and yet God’s goodness still prevails because He loves us so much that He gave us His son, Jesus Christ, to provide peace, strength and comfort, among many other blessings. When we put our faith and hope in Christ, we have hope of an eternity free of suffering, pain and evil: “But to all who receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Despite the cause of our anguish, believers know that if God allows it, there is a great purpose for it. When we turn to Him for help, we deepen our faith, unveil areas of improvement, eliminate toxic patterns and further conform to His image, and we will continue to develop by turning our attention to His goodness during times of strife.

God allows us to use the pains of the world to mold our faith and prepare us for a perfect eternity by His side. Temporarily, yes, we endure pain, but suffering is not a part of eternity, and thus, His plan for redemption is perfect. Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior can look forward to an eternity without sorrow.

I thank God for creating a “very good” world, a world that allows us to experience love and joy. Unfortunately, mankind abused free will, resulting in the evils of the world. Someday, God-willing, we will know and understand all there is to know about suffering, but to fully grasp this profound subject from a limited perspective is impossible.

However, what we need to know, feel and believe is that Jesus Christ is ever-present, readily available to provide comfort and peace in our lives, especially during times of pain and suffering. We are free to decide whether we want to follow Him and spend eternity with Him. The choice of redemption is yours.

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