I’ve experienced suffering before—a divorce, a rebellious teenager, the loss of my parents—but watching my daughter, Annie, suffer tops it all. She’s experienced 11 months of debilitating pain caused by sciatic nerve entrapment disorder, and her condition is so rare and inexplicable that it’s hard to even wrap my head around. Taking care of this formerly thriving young woman through her chronic pain and resulting depression and hopelessness has been, at times, more than I thought I could bear.
I cried out to God as King David did while he was under much distress: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest” (Psalm 22:1–2, NIV). I asked God, Why my daughter? Why my family? Why me? My cries and questioning led me to an important central question: Why does God allow suffering?
Through this experience, I’ve learned that suffering can many times accomplish three things:
1. Suffering Points People to God
The pain we experience in life often forces us to turn to God because pain cannot be ignored. Many times in the midst of suffering, people become aware of their need for God.
C. S. Lewis wrote prolifically on suffering and found that, contrary to popular opinion, God often shows his benevolence through allowing pain in people’s lives. What most people view as “bad,” God works for “good.” As Joseph exclaimed in the Bible, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20). In our case, more than 3,000 people are being influenced daily as they follow Annie’s journey on our Facebook page.1