In a previous blog post (Does God really help those who help themselves?), I discussed some of the sources of trouble and calamity. I want to follow-up on this subject by discussing in this post some of the main reasons why I perceive God permits and allows human beings to have troubles and sorrows.
First of all, it must be acknowledged that God permits suffering and troubles to affect both believers and unbelievers. Neither of the two groups may be exempt from suffering. However, both find themselves in difficult situations for distinct purposes.
For unbelievers, God permits them to have trouble in order to give them an occasion to encounter him. This comes out in Psalm 107's story of the rich merchants at sea. While the merchants set off on the sea to do business, God sends a storm to turn their trip into one where they lose themselves with fear (Psalm 107: 23-30). While it might seem in this case, that God gave them a wild amusement ride on the sea for the LULZ or to get a good laugh, in truth, the apparent motive in this story for God taking the merchants on a wild roller-coaster sea ride is for the purpose of introducing these rich and powerful merchants to their human limitations and inability to help themselves. This indeed allows one to recognise the need to believe and trust in God when one has no other source of help. Hence, unbelievers have trouble and sorrows as a megaphone to announce their need for a Saviour or Messiah.
But trouble does not stop there. Even when unbelievers become believers, they still face trouble. It is not sufficient to believe in God for all your troubles and woes to cease. Even those who believe in God still need and are faced with troubles.
For believers, the main reasons why we have trouble and sorrow are:
- So that we won't forget God. We can forget God if our lives are too comfortable. (Deut. 8:11-14; Proverbs 30:9). When we have all that we want to eat and have nice homes to live in and much stuff and possessions, it is easy to think we have it all. Hence, from time to time, God has to send trouble to remind us that we must not take all that we have for granted.
- So that he can prove if we truly believe in him. God gets glory out of us passing various tests of our faith. Our faith tried and tested prove that we are genuine (1 Peter 1:7). According to Apostle Paul, we are on display to the universe/multiverse (1 Corinthians 4:9). Earth is a laboratory that is being used to not only test us, but to reveal to other inhabitants of the universe/multiverse God's character and laws. We are being watched by other beings [angels and the different classes of angels] for our faith and how we respond to God as agents created with free will to settle a controversial matter about God (1 Peter 1:12). The story of Job also proves this (Job 1). In that story, God boasts to Satan about his servant Job. Satan therefore challenges God to a bet that Job is only serving God because God has been good to him. Hence, God takes the bet and let Satan bring trouble and calamities on Job so that he can prove to Satan that Job is a genuine believer and righteous man.