The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.
-CS Lewis

I have often thought about the so-called “problem” of evil that atheists and agnostics love to spout on about in regards to their unbelief. They claim that the fact that evil exists demonstrates that God cannot. I have always thought this to be quite an immaturely thought out claim. Really, it all hinges on the free will that God has given to each human being. He does not want robots, nor automatons who will praise his name without a choice to do otherwise. He wants us to freely love and choose him. Thus, He created us with free will, which we chose to exercise by making the choice to sin. Nonetheless, He loves us – His creation – so much that He chose to allow His very own blameless Son, the second member of the Trinity, to come to our world to die and take our sins so that we could be redeemed. The love and joy and the power of forgiveness that I experience in my life because of these facts would not be possible without this salvation story. Thus, even if you were to ask, (like I have in the past), “why did God not just make the world such that we have free will, but we freely chose to not sin”, it would be irrelevant. If this were the case, there would be no salvation story, which I don’t think would be as good a world as this one. Without great sorrow, how can you know great joy? Without great depravity, how can you know great sustenance? Without sin, how would we ever have realized out great need for the Almighty God? Perhaps this the best possible world?

Thus, I agree with Clive Staples. The real question is not why some followers of Christ suffer, but why some do not. Does not the book of James speak at length about how suffering makes one stronger and allows one to grow in perseverance and joy? If this is truly the case, then it seems that we would all “desire” some measure of hardship in our lives, because of the benefits it brings in our walk with the Lord.

These thoughts are exactly why I am perplexed at things like the “name it and claim it” theory, and the health and wealth gospel (Why do these things always rhyme?). First, we do not have any right whatsoever to tell God what to do. If He chooses to allow us to go through some suffering for a greater purpose that we cannot see because we are finite human beings bound by time, then who am I to tell God to take away my suffering? Furthermore, who am I to expect it? I think this is a severe and insidious form of pride that infects the North American church culture. Because we live in a country where we have enough to eat and roof over our heads, and many have much more material blessing than that even, we have come to expect it and demand it… and heaven forbid to cry and pout like little children when it is taken away even briefly.

I agree that God wants us to be happy; He’s not a mean old Scrooge who desires our misery. However, His word does say that all things work together for the good of those who love Him. This does not say that all things ARE good for those who love Him, but rather that ALL THINGS work together for the good of those who love him. The Bible also says that suffering is to be expected, even welcomed as Christians, and that we are to rejoice in our trials.

I don’t see how you could believe otherwise, although I’d welcome anyone who’d like to RATIONALLY and CALMLY discuss the various issues raised by this rant.