Does God cause suffering?


I’ve heard that God does not will that anyone should suffer and die, but rather that death is a result of the consequences of sin. Isn’t it true, however, that God killed David’s firstborn son after he committed adultery? Didn’t He turn Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt? How does one reconcile a God who “turns the other cheek” with one who kills those who disobey Him? More directly, does God cause suffering or is He there to help us through it when it happens?

God bless,



Dear Thepeug,

The Church teaches that God does not will that anyone should sin. He doesn’t will moral evil. He allows it that a greater good may come about. But the Church does not say that God doesn’t will that any suffer or die. Quite the contrary: He willed that Jesus suffer and die for the salvation of the Word. Jesus said that to be His disciple, we must be willing to take up our cross and follow Him. This means that suffering is necessary to be His follower.

This is not to say that God is cruel. Since He is the author of human life, He certainly has the right to take it. Suffering and death are the result of original sin and are not the end of human life. They are a means to the end or goal of human life, which is union with Him forever.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit