Church of God, New World Ministries

Why Do Good People Suffer?

You and I see the suffering of millions of people around the world. Countless millions live in squalor, poverty and disease. As members of God’s true Church, we understand the answers to world suffering. It’s just the natural result of breaking God’s commandments.

This present evil world has gone contrary to God’s laws, and by doing so it has brought on itself all the misery that is in the world we see around us.

As members of Gods’ Church, we know the answer to world suffering, for us it is easy to understand.

The difficulty comes when suffering happens to us. And especially if we have been trying to overcome, and live righteously, and be wholehearted with God.

It is hard to explain why good people, those sincerely trying to obey God have to suffer.

Now here is a paradox “Why do the unrighteous prosper? Why do people prosper who do not pay tithes? Why do some of them live in abundance, luxury, and ease?

They pay no tithes, and yet they are able to send their children to fine private schools, they become successful in this world. But the question is why?

Why do some of God’s people, people who pay tithes, have to struggle to make ends meet? Is there any purpose for this suffering? If so, what is it?

What must we prove by it? Will we gain anything if we endure it? Just what are the answers to these enigmas?

There are three basic reasons why people suffer.

  1. The first and most prevalent reason is our own mistakes.
  2. The second reason for suffering is the actions of others. People we love can cause us to suffer. You may feel fine, but what happens when your child or grandchild becomes sick. It brings a mental suffering to us. Also, other’s sins can bring suffering to us.
  3. The third reason we suffer is little understood by most. It is the least prevalent reason. It is the reason for Job’s suffering. In order to understand this reason, we must look into the Bible for the answers.

This is one of the biggest reasons why good, sincere people run into serious trials. We need to understand it, and in understanding we will receive encouragement and strength to meet the trials we face in the future, and make no mistake about it, we will face them.

The Book of Job is a good place to start: The Bible tells us that Job was a man “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and shun evil” (Job 1:1).

From this verse we know that Job was a commandment keeper. David tells us “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, a good understanding have all they that do his commandments, his praise endures forever” (Ps. 111:10).

So, the words perfect and upright should be translated upright and righteous.

Now notice, this is God’s own account that Job was a man who was sincerely trying to overcome. He “feared God and he shunned evil.” In other words, he was not a perfect man as Jesus Christ was. He was a man sincerely trying to serve God.

Job had a large family 7 sons and 3 daughters. He was a rich man, his assets totaled 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 oxen and 500 she donkeys.

God said that Job “was the greatest of all the men of the east” (Job 1:3). In fact, this man was so zealous that he made burnt offerings for his children lest they had sinned.

Just from these few verses we have a background to know what type of man Job was. He was like you and me. He wanted to serve God, and he tried hard every day to please God.

In Job 1:6-12 we see an account that was hidden from Job at that time. But you and I are privileged to view this account. But Job had no knowledge of it at the time.

“Now there was a day when the sons of God (angels) came to present themselves before God, and Satan (God’s adversary) came also among them. And God said unto Satan, whence comest thou? Then Satan answered God, and said, from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And God said unto Satan, hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that fears God and shuns evil” (Job. 1:6-8).

Here we see, that Job was an outstanding man. Just about all the rest of the world was under the sway of Satan, most went Satan’s way. Job, just like God’s people today, stood out among them like a sore thumb.

God wanted Satan to know that here was one man who was not under Satan’s sway. Now Job was not sinless, he tried hard to obey God, but he did it by his own righteousness. So, Job had a great lesson to learn.

That’s not the end of the story, because Satan had a comeback. Verse 9: “Then Satan answered God, and said, does Job fear God for nothing; hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side. You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substances is increased in the land.”

Did you get what Satan was saying, the accusation Satan was telling God that you bought Job off, why shouldn’t Job serve you. Does he serve you for nothing?

Satan was telling God “have you not given him everything, protected him on every side, blessed the works of his hands, and made him rich and prosperous? Why shouldn’t he fear and serve you? The only reason Job serves you, it pays him to do so.”

Satan is now going to challenge God: “But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse thee to thy face” (verse 11).

Do we understand that Satan is telling God, your people only serve you because it pays to do so?

God loves his people and he wants to bless those who serve Him diligently. But what about his challenge of Satan, take all he has away and he won’t serve you anymore?

If you were God, what would you do? In this case God met Satan’s challenge. How did God handle this challenge? “Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So, Satan went forth from the presence of the Eternal” (v. 12).

We see here that God is giving the orders and told Satan just how far he could go.

At this time Job had no knowledge of the conversation between God and Satan. He was going about his duties as he would any other day.

Now, on this one particular morning Job’s children were eating and drinking in the oldest son’s house. And from nowhere a messenger came running to Job; on this one particular day, Job lost everything, his oxen, donkeys, camels and his sons and daughters and his servants.

Job had no knowledge that God had allowed Satan to do this to him.

Job said: “The Eternal gave, and the Eternal hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Eternal, in all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (vs. 20-22).

Job knew the ultimate responsibility was God’s. He did not know that Satan accused him of obeying God only for the riches and blessings God gave him.

In Chapter 2, we see that Satan again appears before God and his angels. And again, God brings up Job to Satan. You took all his possessions away, including his children and still “he holds fast his integrity.”

Then Satan said: “You moved me against him, to destroy him without cause.” This was not true. God wouldn’t take Job’s possessions away because of Satan’s false accusation.

God does reveal the real reason for this trial Job had gone through. Job stood up underneath this trial and he continued to serve God, but in his own righteousness.

Then again Satan accuses Job: “skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.”

Satan implied that Job would turn away from God if he had to suffer physically himself, he would curse God to his face.

Again, God meet Satan’s challenge: “behold, he is in thine hand, but save his life” (v. 6).

We must come to understand that God is in command, but Satan, who is the accuser of the brethren says this about you and me: “We would not serve God if he didn’t prosper us and that any sign of physical punishment we would leave God’s way and turn back to Satan.”

Satan will say to God, the only reason they (Christians) tithed is to be blessed, the only reason to obey You is to have prosperity and protection. Let them lose their Job, or have heavy financial problems, and you will see, they will turn from you and become worldly again.

Afflict their body, you will see they will run to human beings for healing, the only reason they trust You is because it pays them to do so. They don’t really believe your ways, when suffering comes you will see, they will give up your ways.

If this is what Satan might say against you, is it true? Would you tithe if you had financial troubles, would you trust God for healing, even when suffering was terrible? In other words, do we really know that God’s ways are right and love it with all our hearts.

Chapters 3 to 38 is an account of the discussion between Job and his three friends.

Job’s three friends, like so many people do today, assumed that suffering comes because one has done something wrong. His three friends could not see that character lessons can be learned through suffering and trials.

Finely, after all this talking, God showed Job his error, and he repented bitterly and he was physically blessed again.

Before Job repented he asked an age-old question: “Why do the wicked live and become old, yes become mighty in power” (Job 21:7).

Jeremiah asks the same question: “Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments. Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? Wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously” (Jere. 12:1)

King David also asked the same question: “I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Ps. 73:3-7, 11-12).

The point is this: many assume, just like Job’s friends did, that the righteous are always blessed and never suffer. People believe the wicked always suffer, and never receive any good thing. Well, that isn’t what the Bible says.

Notice what Solomon wrote: “There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous: I said that this is also vanity” (Ecc. 8:14).

In other words, God is not going to reward everyone immediately for righteousness. God first wants to know that we really believe His ways. That a person will remain righteous regardless of calamities, trials and hardships.

The Bible tells us that Christians must go through a trial of suffering, and this isn’t a punishment, it is a test, and a lesson.

Jesus Christ went through it in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. Now if Christ was tried, so must we. We are told to follow Him.

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us” (II Tim. 2:12).

God tells us “that many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Eternal will deliver him out of them all. And it is through much tribulation that we enter the Kingdom of God.”

We need to understand that we have to disprove Satan’s accusations. We have to stand firm in the face of persecution. We must prove that we are faithful to God’s commandments.

We must believe His ways in spite of trials, sufferings, hardships, we must love His ways and continue in it.

God is the greatest Father, He watches over us even in our trials and hardships. God wants us to learn, to grow and mature spiritually through these trials. When Satan accuses you and me, lets prove him wrong.

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