There are MANY answers to this question. Our pastor, Lee Powell, spent a little time running through this list of 20 reasons. All of them apply to George Bailey and his many struggles in It's a Wonderful Life:
20 Reasons Why God Allows Suffering in the World - Alex Macfarland
- Suffering uncovers what is really inside of our hearts. - George is forced to look at his motivation and the reason for his discontent. His selfish wants cause him to ignore the gifts God has given him.
- Suffering breaks us of our pride. - George's role in town is to help others. When the $8,000 goes missing, he must forego that role and ask for help.
- Suffering can deepen our desire for God. - George prays twice. The first time is out of desperation. The second time is intentional.
- Suffering can mature us. - George is a better father and husband after his visit to Pottersville, because he learns to let go of his desires and let God be in control of his life.
- Suffering can breed humility. - We don't know this for sure, but we are led to believe that George will pray to God, both for help and in thanksgiving, more often.
- Suffering may be a warning of something potentially worse. - How many times did George give up his dreams for the benefit of others? Still, he failed to pay attention to those warnings, until he risked losing everything.
- Suffering can jump-start our prayer life. - George admits in his prayer at Martini's Bar that he is not a praying man. But that changes.
- Suffering may prompt a lost person to receive Christ. - We see this on the bridge when he says, "please God. Let me live again.
- Suffering may lead a Christian to confess sin. - George is a good man. He doesn't have a lot to confess. However, he does admit in a prayer that he does not pray regularly.
- Suffering helps deepen our trust in God. - George prays "I don't care what happens to me. Just get me back to my wife and kids." He has put his future in God's hands for the chance to return to Bedford Falls.
- Suffering can deepen our appreciation for Scripture. - If George has truly received Christ, then he will go to church more often, and will therefore get a deeper appreciation for scripture.
- Suffering helps us appreciate other Christians who were victorious. - Clarence was victorious. George gives him an "attaboy" at the end of the film. That is appreciation not only for Clarence's accomplishment of earning his wings, but also for saving his life.
- Suffering can take our eyes off ourselves and this world. - George learns his importance and impact on other people's lives.
- Suffering can teach us firsthand that God truly is sufficient. - George must let go of everything and trust God to get him through it (see number 10).
- Suffering can connect us with other people. - The famous final scene is proof of this.
- Suffering can create an opportunity for witness. - We never see George's discussion with Mary after the crowd leaves their home at the end, but I'll bet it is an amazing discussion. And I'll bet George tells Mary everything that happened. That is witnessing.
- Suffering can lead a person into Christian ministry. George already has the heart of a Christian by helping others. His experience will add to this (see number 16 and expand it in some way to the entire town of Bedford Falls).
- Suffering can make us grateful for what we had or still have. - One of the main messages of It's a Wonderful Life is contentment. It teaches us to be content with what we have and not to constantly look for the bigger, better thing.
- Suffering can position our lives to bring more glory to God. - Doing all of these other things accomplishes this.
- Suffering, properly handled, will result in rewards in heaven. - This is illustrated by Clarence. He waited 292 years to earn his wings, but he eventually earned his wings and moved up the social ladder to Angel, First Class.
List taken from "The 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity" by Alex Macfarland (http://www.alexmcfarland.com/)