The issue of suffering befuddles people of faith and those of unbelief alike. Before we can articulate the reasons FOR suffering we have to make sure to clear our minds of erroneous reasons and beliefs. These erroneous reasons are dangerous because there are hints of truth in their foundations but are ultimately perversions of the truth.
REJECT 1) All suffering comes from God.
The element of truth is tha tGod has created a world where sing and suffering are possibilities. But God is not the direct and immediate cause of everything that happens.
REJECT 2) All suffering is due to sin.
The element of truth is that all sin undoubtedly produces suffering in one form or another. In fact it produces most of it. But not ALL is due to sin, as if a man’s troubles were necessarily punishments. Good people who face trouble should not assume that it is due to some special sin in their lives. Job clearly demonstrated that this is false.
REJECT 3) All suffering is an illusion.
The element of truth here is that many of our pains and troubles are cursory and more imagined than real. But clearly most pain and trouble is real. Was Jesus just acting during the Passion? Were the cries of Jews in the Holocaust chambers merely imagined? Will you say to a mother who lost a child, “Your suffering is in mind only?”
While these don’t answer the mystery of suffering it does clear the path from erroneous explanations.