The Biggest Question: 2. Possible Answers

This is Part 2 of a video series called The Biggest Questions: why does God allow suffering? produced by Focus. Each video in the series is introduced by BBC TV Songs of Praise presenter Diane Louise Jordan. They are all abut 5 minutes in length.

Go directly to the part you want using the menu below. They do not necessarily need to be watched in order.

Videos 1-7: Personal Stories
Videos 8-15: Possible Answers
Videos 16-19: Personal Responses to Suffering
Video 20: The Suffering of Children

Possible Answers

In the videos below, the speakers suggest various issues that need to be considered when thinking about why God might allow suffering to occur.

8. Why Me?

We can all be sure of suffering, sooner or later. For many people, suffering is their biggest reason for not believing in God. We do not always know why God allows suffering – it is a mystery. But God is vastly greater than we are, and we cannot expect to understand all that he does. God knows more than we do, and he is wiser than we are. This could just be an excuse for 'blind faith'. But it isn't – there are good reasons for believing in God, even in the face of suffering. [Back to menu]

9. The Greater Good?

One reason God allows suffering is to bring about a greater good result that we cannot yet see – something that is even more important than the suffering. This may be a long-term result. The Bible says that this life is not all there is – it is just the first page of a much bigger story. Ten thousand years from now, when we look back on this life, the most dreadful things that have happened here and now will seem very small and unimportant. To someone who does not believe in God or in life after death, this will just seem like wishful thinking. But there are good reasons to believe in God, and in life after death. Recognising the greater good can help us to understand why God allows suffering. [Back to menu]

10. The Choices We Make

The Bible says that God has given us the ability to make moral choices (free will). Most of us would say that being able to choose is an important good thing. The trouble is that we often choose to do evil, and to rebel against God. (The Bible calls this 'sin.') And most of the suffering in the world is a result of wrong human choices – of our decisions to hurt and harm each other. [Back to menu]

11. God and Natural Disasters

Why does God allow all the suffering caused by natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis? Bob White is professor of Geophysics at Cambridge University, and author of 'Who is to Blame? Disasters, nature and acts of God.' He studies natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions. In this video, Bob White argues that most of the suffering in natural disasters is a result of our own selfishness, greed, corruption or laziness. [Back to menu]

12. God's Wake-Up Call

Most of the suffering in natural disasters is a result of our own selfishness, greed, corruption or laziness. But not all of it. Why would a good God allow the suffering that we have not caused? Suffering can be a warning and a wake-up call from God that we need to get our relationship with him right. [Back to menu]

13. A God Who Suffers

God is not just looking on from a distance while we suffer! In Jesus Christ, God has become one of us, and experienced all the pain and suffering that we go through. He knows what it is like. But according to the Bible, when Jesus died on the cross, he wasn’t just suffering with us; he was suffering for us. In Jesus, God took on himself the judgment that we deserve. Jesus paid the price for our wrong choices and rebellion against God, and made it possible for us to be reconciled to God. [Back to menu]

14. A Different Purpose

If we are God's people, through trusting Jesus Christ, one reason God allows suffering in our lives is because his purpose for us is different from our own purpose. We often want to be happy and healthy here and now: God has created us to know him and live with him for ever. In the long run, this is the only way we shall be happy. Anything else will only lead to despair and frustration. But if we’re going to live for ever in this kind of relationship with God, we need to become the kind of people who will enjoy being with Him for ever. The Bible describes this by saying that God’s purpose is for us to become like his son, Jesus. And one of the ways that happens is through suffering. [Back to menu]

15. Our Choices Matter

If we have become God’s people by trusting Jesus Christ, God is in the business of making us like his son. One way he does this is through the things that he allows us to suffer. But becoming like Jesus doesn’t just happen, and it doesn’t happen automatically. We can choose how we respond to the suffering that God allows into our lives. And the way we respond is really important – our choices matter. [Back to menu]

To discuss all the videos in this series, visit

© 2015 Focus
These videos can also be viewed on the Focus 'God: New Evidence' website.

© Focus. The materials in this resource are reproduced by the kind permission of David Couchman and Focus.