Whether or not we can see it, our suffering has a purpose. The gains come from the fact that God (and, like God, we ourselves) can take 'bad', 'horrible', and even 'evil' situations and make something good come from them. Jesus is the answer Christians have for the problem of human suffering. Human beings rebel against God and his holiness, righteousness, and justice. Worse, the seething anger that sometimes lies behind it has probably created more insane people than any other. Job is a stunning ancient text. Job is a righteous man who lives a blameless and upright life; fearing God and shunning evil. What the Spirit gives is resources so we can face it and make something positive come from it. For the monotheist, misery has a moral or ethical quality attached to it. Copyright © 2019 The Global Church Project Ltd | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy | Website by Endure Web Studios. The righteous and innocent sufferer may find hope and peace in trusting God—if not answers to their painful questions. Eerdmans, 1988. p. 48. If God is so good and loving, then why does He let evil take place? Of apparently unquenchable pain, immeasurable loss, utter hopelessness, total abandonment? He was trying to remind us that while there are some things to celebrate, our celebration is, at its most, only partial. Eerdmans, 1995. He receives a letter inviting him to come back to the place where she was killed. There is no time when He is not there. But, I got through it, despite many temptations to sink into depression and anger with our situation and all the hormones. When you start to feel depressed by your suffering, pause and reflect on what God has done for you in the past. And Jesus suffers alongside each one who suffers, ever more so as it increases. that by yourself, you flail and fall and fail -- and so does everyone else. And suffering only makes sense in the light of the final chapter—the new heaven and new earth in Jesus Christ. At the same time, Job rejects the doctrine of corruption (everything suffers because everything is corrupt). God invites us into His school of comfort where we study His ministry and methods of comfort to equip us to be His agents of comfort to others. It was His mission, and He knew it ( Matthew 16:21) You'll never know the reason why, or even if there is a reason. When we think He is not in control, it is only because our minds can never grasp the will and power of God. They need real hopes, and Christians are called on to help make real hopes take root. In his hand is the soul of every living thing, and the life breath of all humankind.”[12]. In desperate anguish he gropes for answers in the dark abyss of his misery. Or, at worst, they are “not quite torturers, but all the forms of intimidation, all the psychological conditionings, are good for them to obtain the famous spontaneous confessions so dear to dictatorial societies.”[9] The book of Job develops no coherent theodicy. Job’s friends hold rigidly to the doctrine of divine retribution, and encourage Job to repent. We often search for hidden meaning contained within suffering itself, or we seek explanations from other places. that it grabs you and drags you to the place where you discover how much you need God's grace. I began with the book of Job, and I’d like to return there. Where is God when we suffer? HarperOne, 2001. The book of Job doesn’t deny that sufferers deserve suffering sometimes. Where is God when I’m hurting? Since God is completely good, how could He use suffering? (If we enjoyed it, it wouldn't be suffering, would it?) Then again, it seems apt for any time. A Grief Observed. (Not the purpose of this post, more on that later.) Where is God when we suffer? .... Name your system, and the devil will be there." 1 Cor.15-54-57; Rev.12:10f. The law is the law and even God cannot get around it. Think back on some ordeal you have suffered in the past. This is rejoicing that is born of other peoples' suffering, taking the signs of relief from suffering as signs that God is mighty busy here on earth, doing a fuller kind of healing. ; etc. God is not the source of your pain. that suffering, like death, has a way of stripping away the differences we-all have created. Smedes writes, "If I make the first shift, I am more open to the power of the Spirit to act in response to peoples' suffering. *, p.325 (Zondervan; Walker revised Large-print edit., 1996), Then, Smedes asks for a two-fold change in our way of thinking and doing. We’re confronted and offended by such misery. To be frank, we human beings are wrecks. Every Easter, Christians revel in the empty tomb, the risen and present Lord of all, whose love meant that death could not be -- must not be -- the final answer. That is what the believers are. Job exclaims that God negates the expectations of the religious establishment. 2. The response Jesus gave was to bear the burdens of those he touched. Smedes went on to remind us of some things which we must remember, if not as we celebrate, at least after we do. The kinds that we don't want to have. Job’s friends offered clichés for suffering. Notes Toward a Theology of Tragedy.” Judaism 28.3 (Summer 1979): 316. The only difference and comfort for a Christian is that death doesn't have the final word. A first response is to ask ourselves some questions: Once we’ve asked those questions, here are some things we can do (I recognize how difficult some of these things are, especially when we’re in physical pain and emotional anguish): The Bible teaches us that God takes pleasure in his children. The Problem of Pain. [5] Hartley, J.E. Torture and anguish are terrible to go through. The sun continues to beat down on people, scorching them and causing them to suffer. Where Was God When We Suffered? Hartley, J.E. He needed friendship, listening, empathy. We also learn that we should trust in the goodness of God to work everything out in the end. That is what God is. But Job questioned this theology when his experience seemed in blatant contradiction to its proposals and convictions. “Job thus legitimates for sincere believers their ambiguous feelings toward God and religion when they suffer intensely for no discernible reason.”[10], Job is convinced that he’s become a mockery to his neighbor. Job tells us we don’t have to settle for superficial answers to suffering & evil, Jesus identifies with innocent sufferers because he was an innocent sufferer. Word, 1989, p. xxxviii. Why does God allow suffering? It also validates their moments of skepticism in the face of commonly accepted certainties as well as pessimism as a frank response to an implacable experience, and perhaps even cynicism in reaction to unmerited abuse from others.”[14]. Using the words of the three “comforters”, the author of Job “strongly denounces the practice of using deceptive arguments to defend God.”[6]. We sold my car to get the down payment for our house, so we were running around with one car for a while. It provides no theological foundations for establishing a modern theodicy. A theodicy is an attempt to justify the ways of God to human beings (or an attempt to vindicate divine providence in the face of evil and suffering). Where is God when we suffer? In spite of this, he suffers greatly. In all our thoughts about suffering, we have sidestepped the main issue and focused on the secondary issue. [7] Clines, D.J. Kushner, H.S. death or torture), to endure pain (esp. Sometimes we feel that we suffer far more than others. It’s important to reflect, then, on our response to suffering. In a way, the gifts are geared toward suffering, because spiritual gifts are meant to be for the good of others. But, he doesn’t do it in a manner that would silence through fear, persuade by love, placate with logical explanations, or bribe in order to keep Job silent. addresses the topic from up close and personal as well as from the objective view of Scripture. Job, based on this evidence, concludes: “I want to speak with the Almighty; I wish to reason with God.”[13] God then allows Job to question him unashamedly, forthrightly, and openly. If I make the second shift, I am more open to the power of the Spirit to give me courage to will to suffer when suffering can be redemptive to those who suffer." As a God who has died and has risen. : What the Bible Says about Suffering: Lynn Gardner: Amazon.sg: Books We were created to have joy. In many cases He carries us through our problems, other times He allows us to get in trouble to bring us to a stronger faith. Life is full of contradictions and pain. The Spirit gives hope, which itself creates perseverance. That's a good indicator that God agrees with you, and is working on it, in tears. [4] We often misunderstand the parable of the mustard seed. In the story, Job’s three friends come to “comfort” him in his suffering. Lewis Smedes put the problem this way, when seeing the fuss that was made over miracle healings at his college : "It was a feeling I could not shake -- not a scholar's argument, more like a mood or maybe an intuition, but in any case a stubborn, uneasy feeling about the fittingness, even the decency, of celebrating far and wide the miraculous healing of a relatively few ailments within a world endemically infected by enormous, intractable, unalleviated suffering. We offer informative articles, pamphlets, a booklet –Not By Sight, resources and stores and to help loved ones discover how to be a source of encouragement. 5. They do not remove all human suffering from life, and there are still many others in the same misery that was just healed. [8] Tilley, T.W. David Ostrich. People who do believe in God come to various conclusions as to why we suffer. As C.S. God gives inner strength that compensates for loss, and gives the sufferer the resourcefulness to live faithfully and effectively. Life is full of ambiguities, paradoxes, and uncertainties. (1) Ministries of healing are not the main Christian answer to suffering. to depend on what's done by those who aren't suffering, and sometimes by others who are. But the book of Job, to the frustration of many monotheists, is not a theodicy. Copying and republishing this article on other Web sites, or in any other place, without written permission is prohibited. In the book, Job is never condemned for questioning God. Anchor, 2004. (2) Healing from within suffering is as wonderful as healing from it. We know this because that's how it was for Jesus. ------ Levi Yitzhok of Berditchev. Want to be mentored into a slower, deeper, and fuller discipleship, ministry, and life? [16], As C.S. At their very best, they eliminate a particular suffering of a particular person. Lewis once famously wrote, “God whispers to us in out pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”[17]. Why suffer? I'm not being evasive by saying it's a mystery, I'm just saying that humankind has such limited knowledge that the only thing we really know is that our deepest parts scream that it's not right. They seek to demonstrate that God is omnipotent, all-loving, and just—despite the existence of misery and evil. In the end, we realized that healing had a discernment aspect to it: before we began to pray we would seek God for HOW to pray in line with his purposes." God just does it, and is committed to it because of love. Jesus identifies with innocent sufferers because he himself was an innocent sufferer. (Note that I’ve said he uses not causes suffering for his people. He looses livestock, friends, property, health, and his sons and daughters. Paul wrote, “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.”[15]. He’s the author of “GlobalChurch: Reshaping Our Conversations, Renewing Our Mission, Revitalizing Our Churches” (IVP, 2016), and 3 other books. › In this episode we discuss the challenges one faces when they suffer, the common questions they ask, and the various ways Catholics have made sense of suffering in order to discover hope. Since God’s presence is with us when we suffer, he may use suffering to draw us to Christ, develop in us Christian maturity, and to accomplish his purposes. One calamity is added to the next. Yet we do suffer, from first heartbeat to last. Paul describes Christ as our intercessor in heaven who deeply understands, shares, and experiences our sufferings—because he himself has suffered. Job doesn’t portray the suffering of the righteous, innocent, and good as something that’s necessarily cleansing, educational, testing, or edifying. The choice: soiled ancient diapers, skinned childhood knees, and dirtied adult feet. This is because the author of the book of Job believes that God responds to human misery—sometimes incomprehensibly, often unfathomably, but never negligibly. But, in spite of this very real struggle, we are assured that God remains King. But, the fact is, pain and suffering are here among us, and we need to respond in some way. Those who are broken may remain broken. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. This 'good effect' doesn't change the nature or 'badness' of it; it is what it is. In his encounter with God, he finds profound personal meaning, amidst undeserved suffering and ambiguity. The truth is, more often than not, the lessons aren't learned, the goodness doesn't come of it. In the book of Job, theodicies are at best represented as the impetuous young Elihu, who is full of hot air. A mountain of dung is no less filthy when there's a diamond in it. Published on Spirithome, executed for having spoken and lived the truth, injustice and oppression by governments, armies, economies, or social structures. Suffering. Jesus can no longer hold the hand of the sufferer, wrap His arms around them, and give the comfort of a physical embrace. Not that they too can't find gain or hope or even happiness, because many of them really do. 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