If God is always faithful, why do so many people, including a lot of those who are faithful to Him, suffer from all kinds of hardships and/or tragedies?
Before attempting to answer this question, we want to emphasize that God does not usually cause serious adversities to occur. One conspicuous exception was the worldwide flood that was intended to rid the earth of all the incorrigibly evil humans living at that time, and a second conspicuous exception was the last of the ten plagues on Egypt, which was intended to kill all the firstborn Egyptians in order to persuade the pharaoh of that nation to free the Israelites from captivity.
Although God generally does not cause serious adversities, He usually does allow bad things to happen to people, including those who are faithful to Him. And, generally, the reason that bad things happen is because of the so-called “fall of man” that occurred in the Garden of Eden.
According to Wikipedia,
The fall of man, or the fall, is a term used in Christianity to describe the transition of the first man and woman from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience [to God].
[T]he doctrine of the fall is closely related to that of original sin. They [Christians] believe that the fall brought sin into the world, corrupting the entire natural world. . . .
Now we will address the basic question posed by this article. To do so, we will focus primarily on what the Bible says regarding the circumstances in which God will be faithful and to whom He will be faithful. [Note: When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible.]
In Hebrews 13:5b, the writer states that Jesus Christ had previously declared to His followers, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
This scripture indicates that people who trust in Jesus Christ have assurance that He will always be with them. The verse does not say or imply that, if people are faithful to Him, He (or God) will protect them from all kinds of serious adversities. Certainly, history substantiates that Jesus (or God) does not always protect those who are faithful to Him. Most of the men in Jesus’ inner circle of twelve disciples were martyred, as have been many thousands of His other faithful followers during the centuries that have followed. [For a discussion of the martyrdom of the disciples in Jesus’ inner circle, click on “Were Most of Jesus Christ’s Inner Circle of Disciples Really Martyred?”]
So, the question is: Are there any circumstances in which those who are faithful to Jesus Christ (or God) can reasonably expect Him to be faithful to them? The following scriptures will help in answering this question.
Deuteronomy 7:9 says,” [K]now that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments. . . .”
Before Jesus Christ was incarnated as a human being, certain people could expect God (the Father) to be faithful to them, provided that they loved God and kept His commandments. These people included notables such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and a number of prophets. Although God certainly protected these people, there is no indication in Deuteronomy 7:9 nor in any other Old Testament scripture that God promised to protect from serious adversities everyone who loves Him and keeps His commandments.
Likewise, there is no scripture in the New Testament that provides assurance that God (or Jesus Christ) will protect Christians or anyone else who loves Him and is faithful to Him. The two following New Testament scriptures address circumstances in which God is faithful.
1 Corinthians 1:9: asserts, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
This scripture indicates that God will be faithful to those who “have been called into the fellowship of His Son” (i.e., genuine Christians). Thus, this scripture provides somewhat different criteria than Deuteronomy 7:9 for people to legitimately expect that God will be faithful to them. However, like the people who were faithful to God during Old Testament times, genuine Christians love God and seek to keep His commandments.
With regard to 1 Corinthians 1:9, Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible says,
God is faithful – That is, God is true, and constant, and will adhere to his promises. He will not deceive. He will not promise, and then fail to perform; he will not commence anything which he will not perfect and finish. The object of Paul in introducing the idea of the faithfulness of God here, is to show the reason for believing that the Christians at Corinth would be kept unto everlasting life.
In other words, Barnes indicates that 1 Corinthians 1:9 pertains specifically to God being faithful to keep His promises regarding eternal salvation. And, none of the other Bible commentaries that we consulted with regard to this scripture disagree with Barnes’ assessment. Therefore, there is apparently no valid reason to believe that this scripture pertains to God being faithful with regard to matters other than His promises regarding eternal salvation.
A different, but not contrary, perspective is provided by 1 Corinthians 10:13. This scripture declares, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
The focus of 1 Corinthians 10:11 is on God’s faithfulness when a Christian is being tempted to engage in some form of sinful behavior. God will enable that person to overcome every temptation they face, if they sincerely want Him to do so. But, there is no valid reason to believe this scripture indicates that God will protect even faithful Christians from serious adversities.
God is faithful with regard to keeping His promises pertaining to eternal salvation and to not allowing people who are faithful to Him to be tempted beyond what they can resist, but God has not promised to keep everyone who is faithful to Him from having to deal with hardships or tragedies. Thus, when people who are faithful to God experience little, if any, relief from serious adversities, they should not conclude that God is failing to keep His biblical promises to be faithful to them.
Certainly, there are many faithful Christians (and even not-so-faithful Christians) who can cite one or more instances in which they were miraculously healed from serious injuries or health problems, while other Christians (faithful or otherwise) can tell about one or more situations in which they were protected from being seriously injured or even killed. However, there also have been many faithful Christians who have suffered for a long time or even died as a result of an accident or an illness that, presumably, God could have prevented.
Therefore, although we can say with confidence that God is faithful, we need to be aware of the types of circumstances in which He has promised to be faithful. And, if we experience serious adversities, we need to realize that, if God does miraculously intervene, it is because He has a specific reason for doing so, not because He has promised to do so.
[For a discussion of a matter closely related to the one addressed in this article, click on “Will God Protect Us from Premature Death If We Are Faithful to Him?”]