Thursday, October 11, 2007

When it rains....

I wrote a paper last week for my theology class on suffering. The question given: why does God allow suffering?

The events of Hurricane Katrina were focal point for me. How can I tell someone devastated from that event that God had their best in mind? Would that even register with them. And also how could a non Christian be comfortable with a Christian view of suffering?

There are many systems set up to answer this question in a myriad of ways. It was my goal to create an answer. Easy right? ha.

I guess you could say I followed the "greater good" system for answering this question. A common approach for why suffering exists is that God is either not almighty and powerful or God is not loving. I did my best to refute those opinions. A quote from CS Lewis really summed up why we can't just put God in our human box.
The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love,’ and look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not even exist for his own sake...To ask that God's love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God."

I came to the conclusion that God is both almighty and loving, so suffering must have a purpose in our world. From the story of Job I think that suffering is partly what we make of it. We can choose to let it knock us down or we can use it to make us stronger. Of course that is easier said than done. I also think we see in Romans 5:3-5 and Hebrews 5:8 that suffering is used by God to help become more Christlike and to experience some of the agony Jesus went through. Does any of this resonate with a non Christian? Not yet but Romans 5:3-5 talks about hope, hope that doesn't disappoint. The Bible also talks about how they will know us by our love. I think these two verses work together with something that a non believer can come to grips with. Suffering can in some weird way produce hope and that hope is shown in our love for God and people. I certainly haven't figured this one out because there is no perfect way to answer this. I ended with this quote from CS Lewis:
"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

1 comment:

deut-x said...

I don't know if you are still interested in seeing views on the topic of suffering ... I couldn't find the original message I heard from John Piper (a personal favorite theologian) on suffering, but I found part of his outline here.