Why does God allow suffering?
This is a very common question and it can only be answered by God definitively.
However, I will attempt to shed some light on why God allows some types of suffering.
Why Does God Allow Suffering?When the Israelites camped on the Moab plains across from Jericho waiting to enter their Promised Land, God told Moses and Eleazar to take a second census of the Israelites who were 20 years old or older and this census found that Israelites numbered 601,730 excluding the Levites. (Numbers 26:51)
The Numbers Answer
The Numbers Answer
God had ordered the first census to be done after the Israelites had left Egypt and all the men aged 20 years or older were found to be 603,550 excluding the Levites. (Numbers 1)
Of the 603,550 men who were counted in the first census, only Caleb and Joshua were alive and counted in the second census.
So why did God destroy 603,448 men out of 603,550 men ?
God destroyed all the men counted in the first census who were older than 20 years (except Caleb and Joshua) because they refused to fight. This generation of the men of war (Deuteronomy 2:14) was supposed to fight for their Promised Land but they let the report of the giants, strong men and fortified cities stop them from believing that God could bring them into their Promised Land and give it to them. (Numbers 14:8)
So how did God destroy 603,448 men and leave only Caleb and Joshua?
God destroyed that generation of men in the following way:* The 10 spies who had brought an evil report about the Promised Land died by a plague (Numbers 14:37)
* Korah, Dathan and Abiram were swallowed by the ground with their households because of gathering against God. (Numbers 16:31-32)
* A fire came from God which burnt 250 men who were offering incense to God when they should not have been doing it. (Numbers 16:35)
* 14,700 Israelites died when God sent a plague because the Israelites had accused Moses of killing the 250 men who were killed by God because of offering profane incense. (Numbers 16:49)
* Many Israelites died when God sent fiery serpents to bite them after they complained of not having food and water. (Numbers 21:6)
* 24,000 Israelites died in a plague because of committing harlotry with the Moabite women (Numbers 25:9)
We can therefore see that God allowed suffering in the form of plagues to affect the Israelite population. It may have seemed that these plagues were killing innocent people but these men already had a death sentence from God. Their deaths were thus not random deaths from pointless suffering because God was weeding out from the Israelite population those men He said would not enter His Promised Land.
It is also important to note that these plagues were striking where the men lived with their families but their children were unharmed because God said, "Your children whom you said would be victims, I will bring to the Promised Land." (Numbers 14:31) And, God did bring those children into the Promised Land as they were the generation that was counted in the second census.
Therefore understand that sometimes even though it seems that God allows suffering to occur for no apparent reason, He has a reason and His prophets (like Moses) usually know it for Surely the Lord God will do nothing but He revealeth His secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)