Why Does God Allow Suffering?

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6 minutes

I apologize for the gross picture. It is a before and after of my journey that began on May 22, 2021, and while not nearly as bad, is still ongoing. I post it here to give you an idea of not only what I’ve been going through but also how God works to get you where He wants you to be to fulfill His purposes. And to answer that age old question: “Why does God allow suffering?”

My story

I have an incurable disease called lymphedema. Long story short, my lymphatic system doesn’t work correctly, and my lymph fluid does not come out the usual way (in your urine). Instead, the fluid builds up in my legs, hips, arms, back, and stomach, which can cause congested tissue. In my case, I have congested tissue in my legs and stomach.

There is no cure for lymphedema. It is a lifelong condition. When diagnosed and treated early, you can manage it. You can also prevent it from leading to more serious health problems. In my case, my doctor refused to acknowledge there was anything wrong with me. By the time I saw a specialist, it was too late. I had already reached the fourth stage of the disease.

Complications of Lymphedema

In May of 2021, my legs grew so big and tight with fluid that the fluid snapped my left leg. Within a day, I had a full-blown case of cellulitis, which caused my leg to split open and leak lymph fluid (picture on the left above). The leak continued for about a month. There was so much fluid, that I lost 44 pounds! And yes, it was excruciating, like a bad burn. In fact, my doctors treated it as 3rd-degree burns.

Cellulitis is a painful bacterial infection of the deeper layers of skin.

Medical News Today

But the lymphedema was causing other problems. Along with the break in my leg I developed nerve damage in my right leg that has never gone away. After one month my legs began to heal (picture on the right, above), but I needed physio because I had been lying in bed for a month and my legs wouldn’t work like they used to.

So why would God let something like that happen to me? I knew the reason right away, which became clear on my first night in the hospital.

I had been having problems for months with my legs expanding, and my pain increasing, but with COVID, it wasn’t easy to find help. God saw to it that I would have help and plenty of it. He also answered a heartfelt prayer that I had been requesting for years. To be able to share my faith with people I can see and talk to rather than just online. Because of my health, I have not been able to go to church in some time, and because of my absence there, most people have forgotten about me. I rarely get visits, phone calls or cards. So I was longing for human contact.

Be Careful What You Pray For

And that is where my answered prayer comes in. I was here for my roommates. My first roommate had a nasty temper. She refused to turn her lights off at night and would not lower the volume of her TV so I could sleep. She also was very rude to the nurses. Things came to a head one day when she demanded to know what they were doing to me. It was none of her business, and I told her so and that she needed to be nicer to the nurses. She did not talk for hours. And then, later, as we were settling to sleep, a small voice said, “I’m sorry. I lost my husband in October, and I’m scared and all alone.” She heard my testimony that night.

My second roommate was a man. He was by far the most annoying person I had ever run into. He did everything in his power to make sure my mental health would suffer by having FaceTime chats for three or four hours a day at as high a volume as possible. Followed by a Muslim call to prayer that he played on his phone loud enough for the whole floor to hear. He would also FaceTime at two in the morning. And he had a nasty temper, which was so bad, that I feared for my own safety. One day he got so mad he threw his urine bottle at the curtain that separated us. He tried my patience and terrified me at the same time. I rarely got any sleep with him in the room and while I might not have been able to share my faith with him, God used him to teach me about patience, mercy, and grace. All of which this man severely tried.

My third roommate was delightful, but the day I was discharged, I discovered she didn’t want to be a Christian because her father (who was a preacher) soured her on Christianity because of how he lived. I reminded her not to place her faith or experiences in other people because they will always let you down. I encouraged her to start looking to Jesus instead.

On July 1, 2021, I was finally moved to a rehab hospital to learn how to walk again. For 14 days, I was in quarantine in a private room. For the most part, I was ignored because I couldn’t go down to the gym for rehab until after my time in quarantine passed. And it was during this time that I felt so glad to have a private room. It gave me time for serious prayer! A time to grow, study, and learn. I had gone through so much, and God blessed me by giving me 14 days alone with Him without roommates! But my trials didn’t end there. I would get cellulitis again, and both of my legs would turn septic.

Does God allow bad things to happen to His followers? Yes! Is it to punish us? No! I once had a wise Pastor say to me, “Laura, God must have a lot of faith in you.” I asked him what he meant and he explained, “God has faith that you will never stop trusting or believing in Him, no matter what happens to you.”

God Has Faith In You Too!

I echo Paul’s words in Philippians 4:12: 

“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” 

Are you struggling or suffering in some way right now? Is your faith being tested? Please don’t give up. Don’t stop believing in God. Have faith and look to see what He might be doing. Find those “God Moments”.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV

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