Why does God allow suffering? Why do bad things still happen to followers of Christ? What a couple of great questions. I’ve been asked both of these many times, and there are several different (but still correct) answers that can be given. The problem is, there are two sets of answers. One set of answers are toward people that are not Saved, and another set of answers that are for people that are Saved.
I suppose that there could be a third set of answers that could be given as blanket answers covering both sides of Christ (for and against.) But in the first chapter of Second Corinthians, the Holy Ghost, by the pen of the Apostle Paul, is speaking directly to Believers in Christ.
We’re going to find an answer to the question, “Why does God allow suffering?” as it relates to Christians, as we dig through 2 Corinthians verses 3-7. For this particular page of the 2 Corinthians section, we’ll be going over and breaking down verse 4. Below, I’ve included verse 3, which we’ve already broken down in the last part of this Bible study. It just goes well.
2 Corinthians 1: King James Bible
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
If I were to be honest with you, I’d be inclined to let you know that this is one of a handful of verses that I’ve been rushing over for years now. There are several spots in the Old and New Testaments, where if you don’t stop for a sec, and take the scripture into your system word for word, your eyes start to glaze over, looking forward to finding a piece of scripture that is easier to understand.
This is all my opinion of course, and is what happens to me. Does that ever happen to you? You may read it once and know exactly what’s being said and why, but not me. It took the lead of the Holy Ghost to stop me in m tracks, and show me word for word what he is trying to get into me through this particular verse.
I remember when I actually stopped to take a closer look into these verses, and having an understanding opened that wasn’t there before (at least as far as these three verses go.) It was a mixed bag of eureka, aha, and thankfulness to the Father, for being that loving Father, willing to stop, teach, and instruct, a fumbling and bumbling guy like me!
Anyways, let’s get into the breakdown of this verse.
2 Corinthians 1: King James Bible
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
This, as I said, is one of those verses that require a pause. We’ll take small bites in order to have an easier time digesting this one. In verse three, Paul tells us of “God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and refers to the Father as the “God of all comfort” and the “Father of Mercies.” Having that in mind, let’s look at the first chunk of verse four.
Who comforteth us in all our tribulation
verb (used with object) courtesy of Dictionary.com
1. to soothe, console, or reassure; bring cheer to: They tried to comfort her after her loss.
2. to make physically comfortable.
3. Obsolete. to aid; support or encourage.
4. relief in affliction; consolation; solace: Her presence was a comfort to him.
5. a feeling of relief or consolation: Her forgiveness afforded him great comfort.
6. a person or thing that gives consolation: She was a great comfort to him.
7. a cause or matter of relief or satisfaction: The patient’s recovery was a comfort to the doctor.
8. a state of ease and satisfaction of bodily wants, with freedom from pain and anxiety: He is a man who enjoys his comfort.
9. something that promotes such a state: His wealth allows him to enjoy a high degree of comfort.
The Lord saw fit to include a crucial little word that would serve us well to recognize. What I’m referring to is the word “in.” He comforts us “in” our tribulation, not before or after. Also, it doesn’t say that he comforts us instead of all tribulation either.
This is available t us in Christ Jesus. But isn’t necessarily a New Testament only thing that the Lord enjoyed offering to those who love him. King David gives us a great example for us to digest.
Psalm 23: King James Bible
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Tribulation is from the world, and not judgement from the Father. Some folks tend to get the two mixed up sometimes; blaming the Father for something that he’s got nothing to do with. There is no group of people that will bear the brunt of tribulation harder than the Body of Christ, but there’s no group of people that will suffer the punishment of the Lord greater than those outside the Body of Christ. In the list of the many promises of the Lord, both of these are among them.
John 16: King James Bible
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
If Jesus said it, you can count on it as a sure thing. So, the idea of Christians having to go through various degrees of tribulation is as sure as death and taxes. We’ve got to deal with it, and understand why they come. But the God of all Comfort is right there with us, to provide comfort through all our tribulations.
Your mindset will be the difference between being overcome by troubles that head your way, vs. being an overcomer in Christ Jesus, who has overcome the world. When you are barraged by trouble, do you maintain the understanding that the God of all comfort is waiting, with comfort in the wings to get you through? Do you have on the mind of Christ?
So we understand that tribulation or trouble is only a matter of time, as the world is set up and established to hate us. If it hated our risen Lord, it’ll certainly hate us also. But why does God allow us to go through these things? Why can’t he just simply remove us from uncomfortable circumstances and troubles? The answer is below…
~that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
This little piece of scripture can change your life if you allow the Lord to work it into your being. So let’s see… The Father comforts us in our tribulation. He gives us comfort, but perhaps we are guilty of misunderstanding what comfort from the Father really is? In the past I’ve viewed comfort as something that comes and goes, changing like New England weather. But the more I look into this verse, the more of a substance I am starting to believe it is.
If faith’s the substance of things hoped for, then comfort’s the substance of knowing God’s in control. ~ B.R.
Why would I start thinking of comfort as a substance? Because of what verse four has to say about it, comfort doesn’t just go away. Thinking on this, we may use the Holy Ghost as an example. We may not always feel his presence, but that doesn’t mean that he left. He’s still there despite what our fleshly senses tell us. I believe that the same holds true with comfort. We’re not always comfortable, but once the Father provides and gives it to us, it’s there at the ready. Not necessarily for our use, but perhaps reserved for us to give to someone else.
How could it go away if we’re supposed to use that very same comfort, to comfort others that are going through any trouble? And why would I say that it doesn’t go away? That would be because of the following verse…
Romans 11: King James Bible
29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
The Father doesn’t do take backs. A great example was King Solomon. God made him the richest and wisest man that’s lived (outside of Christ,) and eventually, he wound up worshiping false Gods and Idols. God didn’t remove all of what he blessed Solomon with because of his iniquities at all. In fact, he lived to an old age, still working the gifts that the Lord provided.
What the Father gives, you’ve got it, but it’s your responsibility to do right by what you’ve been given. In the case of Solomon, I’d suppose that he had much to answer for after his passing, as there’s no mention of any repentance prior to his death that I’m aware of.
Answer to the Question: Why Does God Allow Suffering?
The ladder half of verse 4 answers this question in just a few words, as it concerns the believer. How could anyone who’s lived a trouble free, perfect life, be of any use to anyone who hasn’t? If you’ve never been through any trouble, how would you genuinely be able to comfort anyone else going through something that you haven’t?
The Lord comforts us in our tribulation, so that we may comfort others through theirs. I suppose the questions could be asked, “Why doesn’t God just comfort them himself?” Seems to be a fair question.
Maybe he can’t because of the spiritual condition of the other person? The unsaved, or one who rejects God. If there is a spiritually legal hold that Satan has over someone, it’s there for a reason. So the Father, due to our free will, will not cross any lines that he has established.
But… Aren’t we supposed to be the Ambassadors of Christ? Yes we are. Did Jesus only help out the quire? No, but gave assistance to any willing to be helped in whatever way.
It seems to me that we who are called by the name of the Lord, are not just the recipients of God’s comfort, but also the means by which he’d cause for others outside of (or not yet partakers of,) the Kingdom of Heaven, to find comfort from the Father. We’re his boots on the ground.
I tend to look at it as the Lord using us, to slide in the comfort of God under Satan’s radar. Allowing others who normally wouldn’t have a clue or a chance to experience any comfort from the Father, to partake in the very same that the Lord has given you. What a tool for witness, if we’d only learn to harness it the way the Father designed!
Romans 5: King James Bible
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Ephesians 3: King James Bible
13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
As I said above, this is merely one answer to the question, “Why does God allow suffering?” In the next page which will be covering verse 5, we are going to dive into how exactly suffering yields comfort and consolation. And why would I know that’s where this is going? Because in order for this not to be ridiculously long (which many believe most of my posts already are,) I’ve cut this in half.
Back to Opening Page: 2 Corinthians -Diving Deep
Previous page: 2 Corinthians 1 Part 4 – The Father
Next Page: Consolation of Christ – Corinthians 1 Part 6
Originally, I had intended to go from verses 4-7. But well… Here we are. Anyways, I pray that this post has been a blessing to you. If so, please use the myriad of features at your disposal to share with your friends. God bless all of you, and thank you for reading the 2 Corinthian answer to, Why does God allow Suffering?”
- Daily Inspiration from Proverbs 21 P. 304 – Your Peace of Mind
- Consolation of Christ – 2 Corinthians 1 Part 6
- 2 Corinthians 1 Part 4 – The Father
- Daily Inspiration from Proverbs 21 P. 299 – Justice and Judgement
- In God we Trust – 2 Corinthians 1 Part 7