Difficult Questions About Pain & Suffering

Resources Curated around Challenging Questions about Pain and Suffering

Curated by Phil Thompson & Jennifer Brogdon

How Should We Interpret Natural Disasters?

We see how natural disasters affect the world. It’s devastating to see homes demolished and people frantically seeking help. Then we hear the death count and how long it will take to rebuild the city so quickly destroyed.

Natural disasters are confusing when we know God controls them.

Do you struggle with how a good and loving God can cause natural disasters? Do you wonder why they happen? It may remain a mystery, but there are promises from the Bible in which we can find comfort when such tragedies hit.

Look at the resources below to discover more.

  • Mike Bullmore

  • Todd Wagner

Will God Hurt Me And Call It Good?

You will hurt in this life. You will have pain, and sometimes it’s hard to understand why God brought it and why he doesn’t end it.

Perhaps you fear he will cause you pain in your future. Do you ever wonder if you will lose a loved one soon, or if you will get a bad report from the doctor one day? Do you worry God won’t answer your prayers when pain does come?

God doesn’t want to hurt you. He wants what’s best for you. Unfortunately, sometimes what’s best for you may cause you to suffer. It’s easier to trust in Romans 8:28 when you aren’t the one hurting, so how do you trust God when you are? Is he really saying this is for your good? 

Many of the resources below come from Christians who’ve experienced pain and testify of God’s goodness.

  • John Piper

  • David Platt, John Piper, and Matt Chandler

  • John Piper

Why Does God Allow Suffering To Come To Lives Of Some Of His Children And Not Others?

Do you feel like some Christians suffer more than others? Do you ever wish your brother or sister in Christ could get some relief from their pain? Or has your life been marked by a significantly larger impact of suffering than others? Do you ask God “why” a lot?

In this section, we help answer the question”why”.

  • Thabiti Anyabwile

  • Buster Brown

  • Léonce Crump

  • Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton

Is Pain A Punishment For My Sin?

It’s easy to think God is punishing us for the present pain we have. We may be reminded of a choice we made and now wonder if our discernment was wrong. Perhaps we know we were outright disobedient. Is it that we are now facing those consequences?

It’s true that God disciplines his children, but it’s different from punishment like how God punishes his enemies. Instead, he disciplines his children–which causes pain–yet it’s for our good. Much pain consequently comes from our sin, but not all pain does. God uses pain to conform us more into the image of his Son. Sometimes it’s simply for his glory and our good. At other times it results from our sin, yet it still makes us more like Christ and gives God glory; therefore, it’s for our good.

The following resources helps us understand more about how God works in our pain.

  • John Piper

Does Medicine Impede God's Plan For My Suffering?

Many Christians wonder if it’s okay to take medicine for the disease, illness, or other type of suffering God ordained. If God ordained it, then perhaps we should endure it in full strength. But even medicine is a gift from God where man tested God’s creation and created medications that would help our fallen, human bodies.

God calls us to take care of our bodies to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV, 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV). This may advocate using medicine for healing or pain management, or it could mean prohibiting an abuse of medication. A question we should ask: Am I taking care of my body–which was bought at a price–by taking medication or by not taking it? This also may have a variety of answers for different types of suffering such as depression, labor pains, cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, etc.

Ultimately, both the decision to use medicine to help us in our suffering and the decision to decline it so it doesn’t interfere with our suffering should come from faith (Romans 14:23 ESV). Below explores more in depth the use of medication for the believer.

  • John Piper

Gun To My Head, Will I Deny Christ?

It may be unlikely that we will be held at gunpoint and told to deny Christ, but maybe we should expect it. The Bible says we will be hated and persecuted while some will be killed for the faith (Matthew 10:22, 2 Timothy 3:12, Matthew 24:9).

Have you wondered what you will say if put in this situation? Don’t worry, for God will be with you.

“When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19-20 ESV).

Perhaps you think of Peter’s denial or the unpardonable sin where you reject Christ and spend eternity in Hell.

Nonetheless, let us stir one another’s affections towards Christ and to persevere in faith (Hebrews 10:23-25), and may we be willing to die for the sake of the gospel (Philippians 1:21, 1 Corinthians 9:23).

Check out the resources below for further discussion and stories of faith.

  • John Piper

  • David Platt

  • John Piper

What Should I (Not) Say To Someone Who Is Suffering?

You may think you know how to comfort someone who is suffering. Maybe you admit you don’t.

Below, several people who’ve gone through seasons of suffering tell us what is helpful (and what is not) to say to someone who’s grieving.

  • Nancy Guthrie

  • Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton

  • John Piper