Most people try not to think about it more than they have to, but there’s no denying it: There’s a lot of suffering in the world. Innocents are killed, maimed, and made homeless in cruel and unjust wars. More suffer the same in natural or manmade disasters. Cancer, AIDS, and other diseases claim millions of lives each year, often after months or years of pain. There’s no end to it. Why does life have to be this way? It’s the age-old question: Why does God allow suffering?

There is no simple, universal answer to that. God does allow suffering, but His reasons and purposes are nearly as numerous and varied as the sufferers themselves. One thing is certain, however: How people come through suffering or react to the suffering of others depends largely on their faith. Those who have implicit faith in a just and loving God call out to Him in their time of need, tap into His infinite resources, and find the grace and strength to rise above their pain and loss.

Little is known about the personal suffering of Frank E. Graeff (1860–1919), but he must have been writing from experience when he penned his now famous hymn, “Does Jesus Care?” The pain he expresses is too real to have been mere fabrication, and only one who has been there could express the truth and hope found so victoriously in the chorus. “Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief. … I know my Savior cares!”

Suffering is part of life, but that wonderful faith and assurance of God’s care and presence in the midst of our suffering can be yours too. I hope this issue of Activated will help you connect with God’s love and comfort when you need Him most.