Why Do Good Men Suffer?
It is not hard to understand suffering in relationship to bad people. Most feel they are getting what they deserve. The real problem arises when one considers suffering in relationship to good people. We can justify a gangster's being stricken with disease, but why little innocent children? We can accept suffering in the life of an infidel, but why in the life of the faithful believer? "Why" is the most timeless and universal of all questions. The Bible gives the only satisfactory answer to this question. Job was a good man who was not guilty of any wrong doing. He was good to his family and friends. Yet his life was full of trouble. He lost all of his children; He lost his wealth; And he was afflicted with a terrible disease that caused him to suffer with painful boils all over his body. God allowed Job to suffer to prove to Satan that he would be faithful even in the midst of difficulties and trials. Many years ago Dr. Robert W. Youngs, a Presbyterian minister wrote an article entitled "Why do good people suffer?" He suggested four reasons why good people may suffer in this life.
1. God is no respecter of persons. The world was good when it was created, but because man sinned in the beginning, it opened the door for the world to be plagued by problems. The Lord allows the sun to shine on the just and the unjust. He allows the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. Likewise He allows suffering to come on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). The difference between the just and the unjust when it comes to suffering is that the just depend on God for help and the unjust do not.
2. The Bible teaches that good people sometimes suffer because they don't make wise decisions. One can be good as gold, and yet suffer poverty if we do not work hard and save. Jesus told the story of the dishonest steward (Luke 16:1-8). This story is about a manager who had been dishonest with his master. When he realized that he was going to be fired, he called the masters creditors in and cut their bills in half. His purpose was to gain their favor, so that when he lost his position they would be obligated to him. The Lord did not commend his dishonesty, but he did commend his wisdom. Very often good people suffer they do not use common sense with their prayers.
3. Another truth of Scripture is that good people suffer because suffering is one way that God has of bringing out the best in people. Paul the great Apostle suffered a thorn in the flesh and prayed three times that God would relieve him of his suffering. The Lord responded to his prayer by encouraging him that when he was weak, God's grace would make him strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). Such godlike qualities as love, patience, and compassion are developed through suffering.
4. One final thing about suffering is that it is God's way of making the world better. If only bad people suffered, we would become hardened and develop the attitude that people who suffer deserve it. Nothing moves people to contribute resources to help those who suffer than to be aware of a good person who is suffering. Much money has been contributed to build hospitals and orphanages to minister to very needy people.