Author Greg Koukl
Published on 08/28/2017

Are Suffering and God’s Love Compatible?

Greg highlights important connections between God’s love and human suffering.


Boy, when we look at the world, and we see the massive amount of suffering in the world, and we also look in our own lives and see the suffering that we endure at different times; it is tempting to think that God doesn’t care about suffering. So let me give you a couple things to think about, first on the micro and then on the macro.

We know, as we look back on our lives, that sometimes the suffering that we experienced produced some of the greatest growth that we’ve ever experienced. And as parents we know that we have to put our children through what they consider a lot of unnecessary suffering, to raise them up in the right way and teach them how to live and help them to be able to deal with the world as it really is.

So in the micro we have enough experience to know that sometimes love and suffering go together, that it’s a reality of life, and not only that, it’s a way that we as parents and we can understand God as a parent in our life, is bringing about change that is desperately needed in our life. Listen, change happens in our life but I realize, and maybe you do too, that change usually doesn’t happen unless it’s more painful to stay the same than it is to change. And that usually only happens when suffering comes into our life and forces us to move forward. Ok?

So we can see how love and suffering can be compatible in the micro but what about the macro? Look at all the suffering that’s in the world. Well we understand a little bit about why that’s the case, because of a rebellion that took place a long time ago and created a mess in the world. That’s the problem of evil. Does God care about that? Let me tell you how much God cared about that.

God cared about the suffering in the world so much that He stepped down out of heaven, that He got low, that He got small that He became one of us. Can you imagine what that’s like? Leaving the glories of heaven to be with us. That’s a big step down. That’s a sacrifice. But He didn’t just step down to be with us, He stepped down to be a servant. And He didn’t just step down to be a servant but He was willing to die the death of a common criminal in order to rescue us from the mess that we caused. In other words, God stepped into our suffering, He experienced everything that we experience to the max. He had His friends leave Him. He did everything right and got despised and rejected by men. He suffered at the hands of men physically and then, in a sense, at the hand of God in a way that we couldn’t possibly imagine, in order that we might be rescued through His suffering.

Does God care about suffering in the macro? Yes. That’s why He came down. That’s why He became a man. He entered into the suffering Himself so one day, ultimately, the whole world could be rescued from suffering.