Why Does God Allow Some to Suffer More Than Others?

Written By Joshua Woo

Joshua Woo is the special officer to a Member of Parliament in Malaysia. He was formerly a Presbyterian pastor in Singapore.

At a recent political conference, I had the opportunity to meet individuals from different countries, many of whom were currently living amid political uncertainty.

Listening to the struggles they faced in their own countries, I was intrigued. Some had been imprisoned before. Some were living in exile. Some were being prosecuted by their governments. Many didn’t have the opportunity to study, work, or start a family.

The plight of other groups caught my attention as well—the Syrian and Rohingya refugees, and the victims of human trafficking. The former were forced to leave their countries and cross borders illegally in order to survive, while the latter were kidnapped, prostituted, and traded. I was also gripped by the accounts of those forced to live in terrible conditions. Some were even murdered, as the recent discovery of mass graves at the borders between Malaysia and Thailand proved.

As I mulled over their tragic stories, I had to wonder: Why do some people suffer so much more than others? And what does the Bible say about this?

Suffering is everywhere

Suffering is everywhere and inevitable. Even around our home, we can see families who can’t afford more than one meal a day, students pushed to their limits, workers put out of jobs, elderly folk abandoned by family members, and migrant workers exploited by employers.

Suffering is also a key theme in the Bible. It tells us of many instances where God allows or was even involved in suffering: God giving Satan the permission to inflict Job (Job 1.8-12), Joseph’s difficult time in Egypt (Genesis 50:20), Jesus’ suffering on the cross (1 Peter 2:24), and the persecution of the early Christians (2 Corinthians 1:6-7).

Scripture tells us that some people suffer because of divine punishment, some for their faith, and some to save others.

Today, the suffering we see around us may be due to one of the above reasons. But there may be other reasons that we don’t know or don’t understand. Just like in the past, God knows exactly why He allows some people to suffer more than others, but He may not always reveal the reasons to us.

God’s Goodness and Love

What we do know for sure, however, is that God is loving and good. We can stay strong in our hope in Him through such times, even when we do not have the answer to suffering.

It’s easy to feel a great sense of despair when we see so much injustice and discrimination around us. But I take comfort from what the psalmist wrote, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).

God’s goodness and love is clearly demonstrated through Jesus, whom He sent to redeem and save us from our sins when we were still God’s enemies. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).

Jesus suffered the greatest injustice of all when He died for sinners like you and me. So, in moments when we’re suffering for no apparent reason and we cannot comprehend why, we need only to look at the cross. As German theologian Jurgen Moltmann once said, “It’s only for Christ’s sake that I believe in God.”

And God promises that our suffering will not be forever. He will “wipe every tear” in the coming eternity. “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Because of Christ, we can rest our faith in the good and loving God despite not knowing why some people suffer more than others. God is there for them—as He is here for us through Jesus.

13 replies
    DOLORES says:

    It’s hard to understand why a loving God allows you to suffer over and over again. I see people who have caused so much suffering in my life go on to lead happy lives…where is God’s divine punishment for them. It’s said God is no respect of persons…I find that so hard to believe. When you suffer so much it just makes you feel forgotten and alone. Where is God in that?

  2. BretLani
    BretLani says:

    Dolores I feel the same exact way. I was told by someone that what I go through makes me strong and those others who Don’t go through things soon will because everyone does add they wouldn’t know how to deal with it. I feel like makes me stronger? No it just has given me mental heath issues that I have to live with for life! That’s how it feels meds after meds therapy after therapy my life hasn’t been enjoying it but recovering from abuse emotionally physically mentally. From family from 1 ex and others. I see them succeeding and all I want is to succeed but no I have to struggle to go to work struggle to become someone when they were blessed with thick skin blessed with success a nice family. How does being abused make you stronger or suffering that is a lie that everyone suffers I feel god doesn’t care. I see no love in it I really dont and if we Don’t have faith on top of our suffering we get nothing. I was also told that we are wierd differently all of us are and some want more and more and its never enough some dont use the resources provided but why is there struggle some dont have to struggle to pay rent get respectful loving families some commit suicide!!! Because of struggling!!!! I have been told life is fair well maybe it is people who have families who are rich get money some do. People who grow up poor they either suffer because of low self and die or they live stronger and fight but I dont find that fair one bit. I look at myself and see there are people who dont have what I have a place to stay food to eat but I am not comfortable I am greatful but I am angry I feel I suffer I live in a negative house with family I have part-time work. I have major depression and anxiety and have to take therapy etc… Others can go out have a great time go to work get married enjoy life eat while others are hungry and wanting success but they get non and dont have a chance to have faith real faith because every time they do things dont work out they loose there home and people say oh your stronger no people not others loose there homes unless they dont pay there rent especially if they spend there money ridiculously! But people who have nothing would put in everything! And die trying ! They spend most life suffering than enjoying. I guess we people who suffer are much wise we appreciate what we have but have burning anger as to why we cannot be successful while others are getting away in life.

    • Leo
      Leo says:

      Welcome to the earth people, a place of hatred and malice and injustice, God told you beforehand that this what will happen because of the fall in paradise… you’re all dead already!…only time!….But God did give us all …Yes All!! …an out…
      JESUS CHRIST …go there…find peace in all your individual circumstances

  3. BretLani
    BretLani says:

    God knows why he allows people to suffer more than others. Well then if he allows those people to suffer more he should protect them because they either get so called “stronger” make some difference or try so hard but commit suicide! In the end that’s disgusting to make a difference use them by letting them suffer to make a difference in the world and loose there life do his dirty work! Suffer! Why dont you come down here and do it instead of hiding and using others you made us and we pray to you. He to me has explaining to do because we as people never asked to be made in the first place.

    • BretLani
      BretLani says:

      His work not dirty work I meant dirty work because putting someone to suffer for what? To make a difference when hes the one who made humans

  4. Nick
    Nick says:

    SO basically what you are saying is that we suffer for no apparent reason. To suck it up because you may suffer for the rest of your life which could go on for quite some while. That only good things are promised after death. Makes one have thoughts of suicide.

  5. Scott
    Scott says:

    Love is kind, love is patient, love is understanding, etc., but allowing enduring suffering is the antithesis of “kind,” and when suffering people cry out for mercy to a God who is capable of ending their suffering, that is the very opposite of “understanding,” and when people who suffer and struggle to remedy their character flaws and foibles (which are a product of their sufferings’ imposed character modulation – a tweaking and refinement of personality traits that become warped and begin to diverge from the embodied agents’ created or intended “soul” and “essence.” leading to an unbroken experiential chain of heartache and pain and internal conflict and conflict with the world outside.)

    We are suppose to love God because He first loved us, but I think the biblical concept of love is like a abusive husband who on many occasions does seemingly loving acts of kindness; but then on other occasions neglects to intervene when his wife is in agony and distress and it is this very inconsistency in the husbands behavior that causes the wife to begin to doubt the claims of the husband, that he loves her, because the wife, while understanding the words and maybe even believing the words in her mind, believes the to be lies in her heart and it is in the heart where genuine love resides and where it dies, and if it once lived and was hopeful of the ideal, but that ideal was smothered by the neglect of the lover, then the death of the ideal will forever overshadow what was once a speck of hope that the God of heaven could really “love” her at all.

  6. Elle
    Elle says:

    The answer is because we live in a corrupted world which is full of evil although it also struggles to be good. This world is out of balance. God says “justice is mine”. We have no choice but to hope in Him and the words He left us.

  7. Nola
    Nola says:

    You aren’t supposed to compare your suffering or purpose with another. You dont know what that person is supposed to be learning on this earth. Focus on what you do have instead of what you dont. You have choices in this world.


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