Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Lesson 4, Part 9


God is Always Fair

Most of the inequities in life are the result of thousands of years of accumulated human customs and traditions, as well as the uncertainties of time and chance. We cannot justly blame them on God.

When they don’t get their way, children often exclaim, “That’s not fair!” People sometimes say the same about God. That was the attitude of ancient Israel: “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?” (Ezekiel 18:25).

From our limited view, life indeed may not always be fair. God allowed apparent inequities when He gave mankind the right of free choice. But recognizing that all is not fair in this life is vastly different from accusing God of being unfair. They are not the same thing.

Most of the inequities in life are the result of thousands of years of accumulated human customs and traditions, as well as the uncertainties of time and chance. We cannot justly blame them on God.

God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). His decisions are consistent with His character, which is love (1 John 4:8-16). Trusting in God and His Word is the only real anchor we have. Nothing else is completely reliable. But, when life is filled with difficulties, people sometimes transfer their discontent from the accumulated shortcomings of people and the unreliability of this life to God. So they falsely and illogically conclude that God is not fair. God revealed to ancient Israel that it is really the ways of man that are not fair.

Did the apostle Paul raise this question in one of his epistles?

“As it is written, ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau I have hated.’ What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!” (Romans 9:13-14)

Much depends on a proper understanding of the destiny and purpose for the human family. That is certainly true in answering this common dilemma.

It is true that God will have mercy upon whom He will, and He may also choose, under certain circumstances, to harden someone’s will against Him (Romans 9:16-18). But all of this is only temporary.

Every Christian should learn God’s basic, step-by-step plan as revealed through His annual feast days. The marvelous truth they reveal shows that the time is coming when God will call all people and give them a just and fair opportunity for salvation. At that time He will show them His abundant mercy, and no one will question God’s fairness.

This is one of the great truths hidden from the world but revealed to Christians who understand the meaning of God’s feast days. They reveal the sequence in which God will address and remove the inequities we experience in this life. You need to understand what these holy convocations reveal. For a detailed explanation, be sure to request our free booklet God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind.

What has the Father already done to even out the inequities of this life?

“At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight’ ” (Matthew 11:25-26).

No one is more aware than God of the inequities besetting human beings in this present era through the influence of Satan. But whom is God calling first: those with great ability or ordinary people?

God reveals that, rather than favoring those who have the material advantages in this life, He first offers His Kingdom to people who are mostly not rich and famous, not the seemingly successful of the world.

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

God has not called the wise, the mighty and the noble in this age. Jesus confirms that “the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light” (Luke 16:8, NIV). Yet the enlightened children of God will be the firstfruits of His salvation.

The prophet Isaiah notes the way of God in fulfilling His plan: “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2). God will even things out. None will enter His Kingdom who is not truly humble. Anyone who seeks to exalt himself over others must repent of his selfishness to inherit eternal life (compare Colossians 3:12-13; Romans 12:16; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5-6).

Did God design His law to protect those who are less able to provide for themselves?

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 23:22).

Yes, God is always fair. He is kind and merciful. His laws reflect His love and concern for all human beings. “The LORD watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow . . .” (Psalms 146:9).

Historical Insights Into Human Suffering

Man's existence includes both suffering and the exaltation of life.

In London’s Westminster Abbey, where the great and famous are laid to rest, two huge candelabra depict biblical figures in cast iron. Among the depicted characters from the Old Testament, two stand out from the others.

At one end of the massive candleholder is King Solomon, portrayed as reclining on a throne in his majestic robes as ruler of a united and prosperous people whose divine blessings pervade the country. His wisdom is aptly summed up in the mysterious Queen of Sheba’s comments: “Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard. Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the LORD your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel” (1 Kings 10:7-9).

Solomon attained the height of temporal achievements, thanks to God’s bounty.

The other end of the candelabra highlights the patriarch Job, depicted as suffering the depths of misery and despair. His throne—to ease his discomfort—is a bed of ashes. Three of his friends visit him from afar, but not to praise his achievements.

Man’s existence includes both suffering and the exaltation of life. Suffering is as much a part of the kaleidoscope of humanity as is the attainment of greatness. The God of Israel was as much a part of Job’s life as He was Solomon’s, if not more so.

As this Bible-study lesson strives to show from the Scriptures themselves, great purpose lies behind our sufferings. Life gives us time to consider the important questions: Who am I? Why am I? What part do I play in God’s master plan?

Suffering is a natural part of our existence. No one can escape it. Suffering can stimulate us to reevaluate the importance of life. It forces us to take the time to consider the vital issues of existence. 

Our Creator determines to develop His righteous character in us. He is far more interested in the character we can build than in letting us live a life free of suffering. Jesus Christ Himself learned obedience by the things that He suffered (Hebrews 5:8).

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