Saturday, November 11, 2006

Why Does God Permit Suffering?

Reasons Why The Lord Allows Suffering

1. Suffering can be the result of sin.

Much of the pain we suffer and inevitably impose upon others is self-induced through our own bad judgment, through poor choices. And for that, help is offered. To the penitent sinner comes the assurance that God will forgive, forget, and never mention our sins of which we have truly repented.
Marion D. Hanks, “A Loving, Communicating God,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 63
When suffering comes as a consequence of sin, it should lead to repentance.
Robert D. Hales, “Your Sorrow Shall Be Turned to Joy,” Ensign, Nov. 1983, 65

Where there has been sin, there must be suffering.... All of our personal experience confirms the fact that we must endure personal suffering in the process of repentance—and for serious transgressions, that suffering can be severe and prolonged.
Dallin H. Oaks, “Sin and Suffering,” Ensign, July 1992, 70

2. Because the Lord has given us agency, he allows people to make evil choices that can affect others.
To preserve free agency, the Lord also at times permits the righteous to suffer the consequences of evil acts by others. (See 1 Ne. 18:16.)
Ronald E. Poelman, “Adversity and the Divine Purpose of Mortality,” Ensign, May 1989, 23
And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames. But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.
Alma 14:10-11

3. We chose to come to the earth knowing that we would suffer adversity.
The plan of salvation presented to and accepted by us in our premortal state includes a probationary period on earth, during which we experience opposites, make choices, learn the consequences thereof, and prepare to return to the presence of God. Experiencing adversity is an essential part of the process. Knowing this, we elected to come into mortality. (See 2 Ne. 2:11–16.)
Ronald E. Poelman, “Adversity and the Divine Purpose of Mortality,” Ensign, May 1989, 23
This does not mean that we crave suffering. We avoid all we can. However, we now know, and we all knew when we elected to come into mortality, that we would here be proved in the crucible of adversity and affliction.…
Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, Oct. 1969, p. 57
We came to mortal life to encounter resistance. It was part of the plan for our eternal progress. Without temptation, sickness, pain, and sorrow, there could be no goodness, virtue, appreciation for well-being, or joy.
Howard W. Hunter, “God Will Have a Tried People,” Ensign, May 1980, 25
4. Suffering prepares us, builds us, and helps us to grow.
The revelations, for which we are grateful, show that we should even give thanks for our afflictions because they turn our hearts to God and give us opportunities to prepare for what God would have us become.
Dallin H. Oaks, “Give Thanks in All Things,” Ensign, May 2003, 95
Suffering can take us one of two ways. It can be a strengthening and purifying experience combined with faith, or it can be a destructive force in our lives if we do not have the faith in the Lord’s atoning sacrifice. The purpose of suffering, however, is to build and strengthen us. We learn obedience by the things we suffer. We should be humbled and drawn to the Lord, as in the case of the prodigal son who appreciated his home only after going into the world and experiencing sorrow when he shut out his loved ones.
Robert D. Hales, “Your Sorrow Shall Be Turned to Joy,” Ensign, Nov. 1983, 65
Being childlike and submitting to our Father’s will is not always easy. President Spencer W. Kimball, who knew a good deal about suffering, disappointment, and circumstances beyond his control, once wrote: “Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery” (Faith Precedes the Miracle, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972, p. 98).
Howard W. Hunter, “The Opening and Closing of Doors,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 54
No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.
Orson F. Whitney as quoted in Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 98
Difficulties can be a valuable tool in our pursuit for perfection. Adversity need have no necessary connection with failure. Proper self-management and self-discipline in all of our trials brings strength.
Marvin J. Ashton, “Adversity and You,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 54
5. Suffering helps us to remember God.

Surely these great adversities are not without some eternal purpose or effect. They can turn our hearts to God. Nephi was told that the natural enemies of his descendants would be “a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me” (2 Ne. 5:25).
Dallin H. Oaks, “Adversity,” Ensign, July 1998, 7
Each of us is the spiritual offspring of God. We came to this earth to prepare to return to his presence, there to share a fulness—that is, eternal life. Without adversity, we may tend to forget the divine purpose of mortality and live our lives focused on the transitory things of the world.
Ronald E. Poelman, “Adversity and the Divine Purpose of Mortality,” Ensign, May 1989, 23
6. Suffering can strengthen our faith in the Lord and help us understand his suffering.

But if our sorrow and suffering strengthen our faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ, “[our] sorrow shall be turned to joy.” (John 16:20.)
Robert D. Hales, “Your Sorrow Shall Be Turned to Joy,” Ensign, Nov. 1983, 65
As we are called upon to endure suffering, sometimes inflicted upon us intentionally or negligently, we are put in a unique position—if we choose, we may be allowed to have new awareness of the suffering of the Son of God. While Alma tells us that Christ suffered all that any of us will ever have to suffer that He might know how to succor us, the reverse may also be true: that our suffering may allow us insight into the depth and magnitude of His atoning sacrifice.
Keith R. Edwards, “That They Might Know Thee,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 99
7. Suffering will be a blessing to us.

…Paul teaches “that all things work together for good to them that love God.” (Rom. 8:28.) Similarly, the prophet Lehi assured his son Jacob with these words: “Jacob, … in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow because of [others]. “Nevertheless, … thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” (2 Ne. 2:1–2.)
Ronald E. Poelman, “Adversity and the Divine Purpose of Mortality,” Ensign, May 1989, 23
Similarly, if we face up to our individual adversities or hardships, they can become a source of blessing. God will not give us adversities we cannot handle, and he will bless us richly for patiently doing the best we can in the circumstances.
Dallin H. Oaks, “Adversity,” Ensign, July 1998, 7
8. Suffering tests our faith in God.

Oh, there’s the suffering that tries and tests us. Job, a perfect man, was tested and tried by Satan. Job’s friends assumed his suffering was a result of sin, but the scriptures tell us he “sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” (Job 1:22.)
Robert D. Hales, “Your Sorrow Shall Be Turned to Joy,” Ensign, Nov. 1983, 65
Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.
Mosiah 23:21
9. Jesus Christ, our great Example, suffered.

At the end, meek and lowly Jesus partook of the most bitter cup without becoming the least bitter. (See 3 Ne. 11:11; D&C 19:18–19.) The Most Innocent suffered the most.
Neal A. Maxwell, “Irony: The Crust on the Bread of Adversity,” Ensign, May 1989, 62
The Lord Can Strengthen Us To Endure
Thus the promise is that in times of sorrow and affliction, if we endure and remain faithful and put our trust in him and are courageous, the Lord will visit us in our afflictions, strengthen us to carry our burdens and support us in our trials. He’ll be with us to the end of our days, lift us at the last day to greater opportunities for service, and exalt us at last with him and reunited loved ones, and he will consecrate our afflictions to our gain.
Marion D. Hanks, “A Loving, Communicating God,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 63
Because the Savior suffered “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind … [taking] upon him the pains and the sickness of his people … [taking] upon him their infirmities … [he knows] according to the flesh how to [help] his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7:11–12.)
Ronald E. Poelman, “Adversity and the Divine Purpose of Mortality,” Ensign, May 1989, 23


Doug Towers said...

This is brilliant stuff. And I don't wish to detract from that in what I now say.
There is one concern I have and that is the proposed idea of God feeling he needs to test us. As if God wouldn't know what we will do. The story of Job isn't sensible or consistent with the rest of the scriptures. I don't believe it should be taken as literally as it is. It has a God with some serious ego issues. It has Satan coming up for his yearly chat with God. What's this? Christmas? How would Satan go standing in Gods presence? I'm not proposing that it isn't scripture. But there is much more to it than is presented. And it shouldn't be used to obtain correct doctrinal principles, in my opinion.

Carrie Seaver said...

What a wonderful way to present the subject of suffering. I loved how it was presented. I will keep it and ponder it again and again. the style was perfect for my way of learning. I loved it! Thank you.