Suffering

question-mark.gifThere are lots of sound theological reasons as to why God permits suffering.

But when that question is raised, I encourage people to probe a little to see why it is being asked.  It is usually one of three categories. 

1. If someone asks it for the theological reasons, there are lots of answers (sin, free will, logical consequences of our actions, to draw you to God, etc.).

2. If people are asking because they are going through suffering, then console them and point out how Jesus – who is God – was not indifferent to suffering.  He suffered in countless physical and emotional ways on their behalf.

3. If someone asks it as a smokescreen then expose the motive.  Many times people find that to be a convenient excuse for not believing in God and no answers will suffice.

If you don’t understand why someone is asking about God and suffering you may give an accurate answer but not really address their question. 

These short videos offer excellent answers to the problem of suffering.

8 thoughts on “Suffering”

  1. Terrific points. I would also say that is someone is using it as a point of argument -don’t take the bait. Don’t throw pearls to swine. It won’t get you anyehre as the heart is hard. Just pray for them and end the war.

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  2. Travel to places like Haiti or Africa seems to spark these questions, especially from non believers. While I agree that there are good theological answers available, that isn’t the right time for them. It is difficult to come to grips with the fact that an “accident” of history can lead to such terrible suffering. It is certainly an excellent opportunity for dialogue, but coming up with an answer that makes sense is not easy. ANy thoughts?

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  3. God is a free being. He values freedom, and therefore gave us free will. Some suffering is the result of choices that have been made – either by others around us or by us ourselves. When we, or others around us make bad decisions, they can cause pain, and because God values freedom and free will, He often does not interfere in that pain, but instead lets us experience it as a way of teaching us to make better decisions.

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  4. By the way, it’s strange sometimes how God will lay the same thing on different people’s hearts at the same time – I’ve been working several days on a post about whether it’s ok to ask God “why” in our suffering. I want to share it with you as well.

    Is it Ok to ask God Why

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  5. Lee Strobel, in “The Case for Faith,” devotes a chapter to suffering.

    Travel to places like Haiti or Africa seems to spark these questions, especially from non believers. While I agree that there are good theological answers available, that isn’t the right time for them. It is difficult to come to grips with the fact that an “accident” of history can lead to such terrible suffering.

    Being the free-market, soulless, capitalistic libertarian that I am, when I see the suffering in Africa and Haiti, I realise that I am tremendously fortunate, but also realise that my fortune is the result of people’s reactions to similar problems. We live in a free society because our founding fathers saw tyranny and used their wonderful, rational minds to design a system that is not prone to tyranny. We live in a society that is plentiful with food, because someone who was tired of being hungry figured out agriculture. Mr. Strobel talks about a woman whose child died for lack of rain – which is about as horrible a suffering as anyone can imagine. It begs the question, though: do we really need rain in that location and time, or can we use our minds to figure out how to move people out of that region or move water into it? (Look at Las Vegas if you ever think that the desert cannot be an area of prospertiy. 😉 )

    Likewise, if you consider the suffering caused by health issues in third-world countries – well, that’s whawt our ancestors went through; we are their fortunate descendants, because they didn’t want to live like that. A lot of human innovation is predicated on the desire to remove needless suffering from our lives.

    Of course, living in 2007 in America, it’s easy for me to say that. But I think we are all motivated by the suffering of ourselves and others – consider the fact, for example, that six times as many post-abortive women are in National Right to Life than are in NARAL. They do not want other women to suffer the way they have suffered, and, in doing so, help to end a tremendous evil.

    But heck, what do I know… I’m a capitalist. 🙂

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  6. Through personal experience, I have found that the times in my life that my situation seemed completely hopeless, that I called on God, and was comforted. I believe one advantage to suffering is that suffering drives us to our knees, and thus, to the Lord.

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