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Christianity: Why do people suffer when they do not deserve it?

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Anyone reading this is almost certainly doing so in the context of distress or pain.  It may be something they or someone they know are undergoing, or a catastrophe somewhere in the world may be featuring in the news.  This is written in the hope that you will find healing and help. To be frank, there is no convincing answer to the question, ‘Why am I suffering?’  It is something that is experienced by every individual (indeed, everything that lives and breathes).  Jesus, who grieved, agonised and finally died in shameful circumstances, was no exception.  It is an unavoidable part of the world we have inherited. There are a few things that Christians are able to say with confidence. Firstly, you are not suffering because God hates you.  Secondly, your suffering will come to an end, and there will be an eternity in which peace and justice will compensate you.  And thirdly, knowing the presence of God alongside you will make you stronger as you face painful circumstances. The Christian faith teaches that God hates suffering.  It was not part of his intention for humankind.  However, he has created a world that has two features.  Both these features are wonderfully beneficial to humans, but also result in a planet where suffering is inevitable. First, the humans who are the part of creation that God loves are created capable of making choices.  To a greater or lesser degree everyone chooses to do some bad things as well as some good things.  Much of the suffering of the world is caused by humans in large numbers choosing together to do things that are evil.  Wars, poverty and hatred are not caused by God.  They are caused by people who are rejecting the ways of God.  Tragically, people who are entirely innocent often suffer most. Second, the world is held in a delicate balance in which every part of creation is dependent on every other part.  This is true from heaving oceans to microscopic seeds to meat-eating animals.  Science calls this ecology.  A planet that sustains human life as part of this glorious interdependent system needs certain features in its design.  They include the movements of the planet’s surface that set life in motion, but also cause terrible destruction through earthquakes and volcanoes.  They include the viruses that bring death to humans but life to other parts of our ecology. How do we know that God cares about this?  Christians recognise that God’s loving commitment to a suffering world was so great that he visited it in person.  Jesus was God.  He experienced the very best and very worst of being human - living, dying in hideous circumstances and overcoming death.  All we know of Jesus leads Christians to believe that wherever there is suffering, there is a sense in which God is alongside each human, hurting with them. Although Christians find pain terrible and hard to understand, this belief allows them to cling to the possibility that suffering is not meaningless and death will not be the end.

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1 Ahmed M = "Physical suffering takes many forms. All of us have seen at some time an elderly person with aches and pains in their joints."
2 Ahmed M = "As we get older all of us find that life can become more difficult for all kinds of reasons."
3 Ahmed M = "The First Noble Truth is that the suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death is unavoidable."