Why does God allow suffering? This is the age-old question of Christians and non-Christians alike, and it's unlikely to be answered to anyone's satisfaction this side of heaven. Even though I'm just an ordinary guy, I'd like to take a stab at it.
I believe I'm like most people. I want to be comfortable, happy and safe. I want to have enough money to pay my bills, to help my kids with college, and to go on a vacation once in a while. I want to be healthy. What's wrong with that? Why wouldn't God want the same things for me? Well, I believe it's because He want much, much more for me!
Dr. Larry Crabb is a best-selling author, counselor and psychologist. He's written many popular books including “Inside Out", “Finding God", and “The Marriage Builder". I've read some of his books and liked them, though the ones I read were really deep and kind of hard to digest.
Recently, I discovered another book by Dr. Crabb called “Shattered Dreams - God's Unexpected Pathway to Joy". I started reading it and I realized it was different than the others I've read by him. It was actually much easier to read, and I could tell from the writing style that this book was intimately important to him, that he had really lived what he was writing here.
The premise of this book is that joy and happiness are two distinctly different things. Most of us believe that the most important thing that we can have is happiness. Plenty of money, a loving spouse and obedient kids, good health, a good job, a nice house, etc. The list could be quite long. But my belief is that this isn't necessarily what God wants for us.
God wants us to find joy in a different place - in relationship with Him. If you can achieve that relationship and still have the above-mentioned happiness, that's great! I don't think they are necessarily exclusive of each other. After all, God does want us to have good things. The Bible says “If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!".
However, quite often when we have the happiness, we either become content or we get so wrapped up in keeping that happiness intact that we don't see the need to find the time for that relationship with God. It is in these times that God might allow some pain to come into our life to draw us closer to him. It's at these times that many of us tend to do what we can to minimize that pain, basically because it hurts!
"Shattered Dreams" encourages us to allow ourselves to feel that pain, to mourn, and to grieve. It is in the midst of these trials, and on the other side of them, that we encounter God, and only then are we able to experience the true joy that He desires. It is not comfortable or fun, but it is ultimately the only true path to joy, and in my opinion, the reason that bad things happen to good people, and why God allows suffering.
Matt Hellstrom is a husband and father of five beautiful adopted children. Check out some tips for effective parenting skills that Matt and Julie have learned in the last 15 years. You can also read his opinion about why bad things happen to good people