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Bible Q

Why did God allow my father to die from a heart attack and mother from cancer?

Both my mother and father prayed, fasted and payed tithes and were saved for the most part of their lives. My mother really suffered badly even though she lead the holy life she did, she always preached about God and did the right thing. I don’t understand it

I am sorry to hear about the death of your parents. Any comments of mine are likely to appear glib in the face of such suffering. No explanation can compensate for your loss. Nor can I answer for God. All I can do is offer some teaching from the Bible that may provide some perspective on this suffering and that might, in time, help you to come to terms with your loss.

Firstly, it is worth stating loud and clear that suffering is not the automatic consequence of sin. The examples of divine punishment in the Bible are exceptional and preceded by explicit warnings. Job is the prime example in the Bible of someone who endured terrible suffering but not as the result of any specific sin. The same teaching is given by Jesus when talking about a tower that fell and crushed some men – he says that these weren’t worse sinners than anyone else (Luke 13:4).

Secondly, we cannot always know God’s purposes. God says “my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways” (Isaiah 55:8); just because we cannot see any purpose in the things going on around us does not mean that God is not working. It may be that he has some purpose of which we are unaware. This was the case with Job, he did not suffer because of anything he did, but God was working in the life of Job.

Thirdly, it worth reminding ourselves that this world is not as it should be. The Bible describes how suffering entered the world as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin. Paul says that “creation was subjected to futility” (Romans 8:20), and we see this “futility” in the world around us. People do not all live to ripe old age, but some are cut off prematurely through disease or accident. These trajedies are reminders that the world is not as God originally intended – it is a world separated from God by sin. However, the story does not end here. Paul continues that God subjected the world to futility “in hope”, because there will come a day when the world will be delivered corruption and restored to the paradise that God intended (Romans 8:20-21).

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