"Rain" Discussion: Why a Loving God Allows Suffering

Takeaways from Rob Bell's NOOMA 001
Originally written: 9.22.09 (pre 'Love Wins'); updated 7.12.16
The BIG Question: Why does an all-loving God allow pain, suffering, and tribulation to exist in the world? Why does God let bad things happen to us...even for those who are committed in their walk with the Lord?
Answer: Because God loves. He's not only loving...He is love...unconditionally...every second, every day.
With that said, it's important we recognize God's love not only in light and calm, but also in dark and storm.

'Cause truth is: while it's easy to associate God's love to smooth sailing, sunny days, and the greeting of ocean sounds resonating with a noon snooze, we can't forget...

a) ...we live in a fallen world where people are more passionate about the consequences of sin compared to their tolerance and/or ignorance of it...and...
b) ...God is a God of grace who uses our brokenness to make his love and truth known...just as much as he's a God of peace and rest. Thus, it doesn't make any sense to challenge God's authority and/or judge him as passive in light of hardships he has no part in instigating.
Think of it this way: If God sought to eliminate suffering, would there not be a removal of revelations and manifestations where his love could be more transcendingly experienced as well?
Take Peter, for instance, as he's sinking into the Galilean waves. Did he not have the truth right in front of him when we started to sink...we he started to doubt and lose heart? How often is the answer  right in front of us in times we exalt the billowing waves of life!?!
See...I think it's imperative we understand how to bridge this gap. Granted, a mere blog post can only go so far, but at the same time, we gotta engage the discussion at some point...though perhaps you're like an older me wondering 'what's the use'? After all, our finite minds can't possibly comprehend all the reasons why God "allows" bad things to happen. We are not God; therefore, we are not all-knowing. I get that...
However, is not the existence of mystery indicative of a God who conceals for his glory as much as he reveals for his glory...who protects us by giving us room to pursue him in smooth and tough times? Maybe I'm off, but I gotta believe at least part of the answer to 'why a loving God allows suffering' exists here.
At any rate...as we will later discuss...
  • The presence of suffering can actually allow us to experience God's love more deeply (whether the suffering is rooted in sin/a byproduct of the fall...or an attack of the enemy).
  • Whatever batters our confidence, our hope, our joy is best seen as an invitation to desperately seek God for discernment while trusting in his ways.
For the grandest mysteries embedded in life's greatest disappointments can't always be captured and rationalized into a coherent, explicit statements that 'float our boat'. Instead, why not accept the good news...that God has achieved victory through Christ on the cross, is currently making countless situations right as we speak, and will ultimately redeem all pain and suffering in due time.

For "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28) for God "knows the plans [He] has for [us], plans to prosper [us] and not harm [us], to give [us] hope and a future..." (Jeremiah 29:11).
Photo creds: NOOMA 001; jenhatmaker.com

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