A girl is born in a strange land where her parents were exiled following a brutal war that left most of her extended family dead or enslaved. While still a teenager, she is taken away to become the trophy slave-wife of a wealthy foreigner. She soon finds herself in a position to change the course of an empire and to save millions of her people.
A great empire in another era suffers wave after wave of horrific natural disasters. A prophet tells the emperor that if he would only repent of a particularly grievous sin, his people would be spared. The emperor is a proud man and refuses to budge. Millions are impoverished, tens of thousands die by starvation or disease, and the government is in shambles. At any moment in the process the emperor could have repented or the people might have overthrown him and begged God for mercy, but pride is a powerful master.
A child is born blind and his parents die when he is still young. He lives for many years begging alms and often going hungry. One day the Son of God finds him and heals him before a throng of witnesses. He sees for the first time in his life and spends the remainder of his time on earth preaching the gospel, bringing joy and meaning to countless lives.
We often hear doubters ask “If God cares so much, why is there so much suffering in the world?” To the simple minded, it sounds like proof positive that God either doesn’t care or doesn’t exist, but the world is an extraordinarily complex system. There are at least as many reasons why a person might suffer as there are people. One person suffers because he made a bad mistake, another suffers because there is an important lesson he needs to learn, or a wrong he needs to right. Perhaps there is some benefit to come that will overshadow all his pain.
It is even true that we need struggle to grow and thrive. As individuals, nations, and even as a species, we must have a certain amount of pain to drive us to achieve anything worthwhile. Great ideas and great art, usually only come after great struggles. Can you imagine the shallow, narcissistic philosophies of a people who have no serious challenges to overcome? You don’t need to imagine it; you have only to turn on the television.
We cannot possibly fathom all of the connections between people and problems. The only thing we can be certain of is that only the Creator can possibly know the full truth and that the scales will always balance at the end.
God knows each and every one of us. He knows what we need to live and what we need in order to achieve the greatness He sees within us. Don’t hide from pain. Study God’s Word so that you can know love and justice when you see it. Put your trust in Him, knowing that His purposes are everything, while yours are nothing. Then face your challenges head on. Fight injustice, fight cruelty without fear, because when you do what’s right and trust God for the outcome, He will be with you.