“Why Doesn’t God Make Life Easier?”
This question was asked of me recently by a dear friend whose godfather committed suicide. My friend–like many of us!–is genuinely trying to sort through the intense pain/hardship/suffering that characterizes life on earth.
Below is my response–I pray it is a blessing to you:
My heart breaks that you are going through this pain right now but I am honored that you would reach out to me and I know that God will use this pain to grow you closer to Him!
Here are some thoughts on your question:
1. God NEVER intended there to be pain, suffering, death, etc. Adam and Eve brought this upon us with their disobedience in the Garden of Eden so long ago. I realize that kinda stinks for us–we didn’t personally do anything to cause this sin infection in the first place, but this is the way it is–we just gotta deal with it (there’s no way to get the toothpaste back in the tube!). And just as God made animal clothes for Adam & Eve to protect them for the harsh weather He knew was coming (even though the harsh weather was their fault), God also takes good care of us despite our own sinfulness/rebellion against Him.
2. We can limit pain, though, by making wise choices and living according to God’s Word with the Holy Spirit’s help every day. We can make life easier and less painful for ourselves and others by following God’s commands. This is why it is so important for us to receive Jesus as Savior, then follow Him as LORD, and continue each day to grow up in Christ to be healthy men and women of God–when we do those three steps, we are much less likely to make catastrophically painful choices that hurt God, others, and ourselves (I’m not saying that Christians are unable to sin; rather, as Christians grow to become more like Jesus we are less likely to sin).
3. God DOES make life easier for us everyday. We will probably only find out in heaven, but every day that we live without a tragedy is a day that God directly spared/protected us from a tragedy. God is directly involved in every circumstance in our lives every moment of every day–if He were to ever just “step back” and let the cookie crumble on its own, let life happen apart from Him, we would then realize how bad/terrible life can really be. As hard as life can get on earth, it could ALWAYS be harder.
4. Nevertheless, God does choose to allow us to experience times of intense pain, hurt, suffering, etc. Why?
A. For the same reason a parent allows a child to do certain things knowing that they will make mistakes, screw up, etc–sometimes failing is the only way a child will learn how to ride a bike, have good study habits in school, manage their money well, choose godly friends, etc. God is the same–in our now sinful condition we often have to learn important lessons in painful ways, and while learning the lesson might be horrible in the present, NOT learning the lesson will always be MORE horrible in the future.
B. For the same reason a drill instructor in the military pushes new recruits to the edge of death in training; sweat-loss in boot camp often prevents blood-loss in war. The drill instructor does not like to see new recruits suffer in training, but the drill instructor loves the soldier and wants to see them survive the upcoming war so they train them HARD now to protect them later. God too wants to see us survive and thrive in this earthly life, but He needs to strengthen us mentally/spiritually to endure the tests we will face over the unfolding years.
C. For the same reason that intense diseases require intense medicine, treatment, etc. You don’t give Tylenol to someone battling cancer. THough Tylenol is extremely helpful for other ailments, the Goliath known as cancer requires chemo therapy, radiation, surgery, and other treatments that cause suffering for the patient. There is simply no pleasant/easy way to treat cancer because cancer is so powerful. Similarly, for those who have trusted Jesus as their Savior, God then begins the process of transforming/healing our character to eventually become a clear reflection of Jesus’ character…what a gift from God that He wants to now teach us to be like HIM! But though a born-again Christian is forgiven of their sins, it takes some serious elbow-grease to eliminate/clean up the residue of sin in our practical lives. God uses the abrasive scrubbing pad of hardship to help remove the corrosive rust of sin in our daily lives. There simply is no easy way for God to move us through this sanctification process of becoming like Him.
D. If you think about it, just about anything worth having/achieving in this life requires lots of time, sweat, hard work, patience, and suffering, whether it’s being a talented athlete, skilled musician, generous person, etc. Faith in Jesus too requires hardship–we simply can’t become who God made us to be and do what God made us to do in an easy way, just like you can’t get to the top of a mountain by going downhill. Thank goodness our time on earth is only a blip in light of eternity, because life on sinful earth is primarily characterized by hardship.
Here are some powerful Scripture verses about suffering to soak in:
1 Peter 4:12-13 The Message: Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.
James 5:10-11 NLT: For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.
James 5:7-8 NLT: Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.
Romans 8:18-25 NLT: Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
Romans 5:3-6 NLT: We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.
I pray this is helpful, my friend–please let me know if anything is confusing, if you have follow-up comments/questions, etc.
You are NEVER alone…