Why Would God Let this Happen?

Have you ever heard anyone say something like: “If there really is a God, why do innocent people have to suffer?” or, “If God really loved me, why would He let this happen to me?”

If anyone ever had reason to ask those kinds of questions, it was Joseph. He was sold by his brothers to a band of traveling Ishmaelites, who sold him to a rich Egyptian named Potiphar. He was falsely accused of rape by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison for it. Then he was forgotten by Pharaoh’s cupbearer and left in prison two years longer than he had to.

So why did God allow these things to happen to Joseph? God certainly could have stepped in at any time and made life easier for Joseph. I think the answer lies in the fact that God is far more interested in developing our faith and character than He is in our comfort.

An unknown author offers the following suggestion for why God sometimes allows suffering in our lives:

“There was a group of women in a Bible study on the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter three they came across verse three which says, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” (3:3). This verse puzzled them and they wondered how this statement applied to the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out more about the process of refining silver, and to get back to the group at their next Bible study. She called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him while he worked. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest, beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith work, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire, where the flames were the hottest as to burn away all the impurities. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the entire time the silver was being refined. The man answered – yes, not only did he have to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on it the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “But how do you know when the silver is fully refined?” He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy – when I see my image in it.”

Suffering isn’t pleasant. Sometimes it’s from God… and sometimes it’s from our bad decisions or from the influence of those around us. But no matter where the suffering comes from, God is never far from us. He never allows us to remain in the fire longer than we can stand. And when we have gone through the fire, and the impurities have been burned away, then others around us can see the reflection of our God in our lives.”