Tuesday, November 06, 2012

When We Suffer

Suffering is a part of life.  I don't say that lightly. We are now walking with a family member, someone in the prime of life, who is undergoing treatment for cancer.  The prognosis is encouraging, but this is one of those situations where one is often moved to ask, “Why, God?  Why now and to this person?”

Believers have struggled with the reality and mystery of suffering for ages.  Job and his friends in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Apostle Paul in his letters, theologians through the ages, and pastors in hospital waiting rooms have all attempted to deal with the problem of pain and suffering. 

We know the classic statement of the problem:  “If God is good and all powerful, why does God allow suffering in the world?”  The failure to do so brands God as either evil or impotent in the eyes of many. 

Some reject God because they cannot figure it all out.  Their argument goes something like this:  “If I can’t understand why there is evil and suffering in the world, then I have to question God’s existence or turn my back on an evil God. 

Too often these quests come down to the individual’s belief that what he or she can understand is the final test.  In other words, it’s all about me.  If the God the universe can’t satisfy my questions, then forget God!

Job takes a very different approach.  In the light of the recriminations from the “friends” who come to”comfort” him, Job says, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” (Job 13:15a, NIV)  Job gets it right in my opinion.  It’s not about him; it is about trusting God even when I don’t understand what is going on.  God has not forsaken us but walks with us through the most difficult and trying times.  Thanks be to God!

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