It’s a great challenge when tragedy hits. Maybe you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, or a dear friend, a family member, a young mother & father dies and the children are left alone, a terrible injury, etc. the list goes on and on…. incredible pain…. almost too much.
In the midst of this terrible pain, we may hear:
- Where is God… what happened to the Lord ?
- I thought he loved us…. why did he allow this to happen… it makes no sense….
- There’s so many evil people in the world, why does God take the good ones…..
- I’m finished with God…. he can’t be trusted…
For centuries Christians have questioned why, if God is good and all-powerful, he allows us to suffer pain. St. Teresa of Avila said, “God, if this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few.” This is not a new topic. While there are compelling answers to these questions, I don’t think the answers take away all the pain… at least for now.
In his book, The Problem Of Pain, C.S. Lewis sets out “to disentangle this knotty issue, but adds that, in the end, no intellectual solution can avoid the need for faith.” He goes on to say, “ the only purpose of the book is to solve the intellectual problem raised by suffering; for the far higher task of teaching fortitude and patience I was never fool enough to suppose myself qualified, nor have I anything to offer my readers except my conviction that when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.” (XII)
I was originally thinking of looking to summarize a list of quotes from the saints and theologians on suffering and death. Then I remembered that this is a BLOG, not a book or course. So let me just say that “suffering and pain and death and their implications” don’t make much sense if life on earth is all there is. If life ends with our death, then I don’t think there are many good answers.
Yet, if God is love and all knowing and powerful, then we need to look at suffering and death in light of eternity, in light of heaven….not in light of 5 or 10 or 50 or 90 years on earth, but in light of “50 zillion years times a 100 gillion years”. We believe that Jesus conquered death so that we can have an eternity of bliss…not just 90 years in the valley of tears”. Jesus does work all things to the good for those who love him… this includes suffering and disappointments and death. (Rom. 8:28)
It’s a matter of TRUST. Do I trust that God loves me and is doing the precise best for me in this life on earth? Do I believe that he knows what’s best for me… a brief life or a long life…a life of great health or a life of suffering? Sometimes he reveals his reasonings, other times he’s silent.
One day we will know all of this. (if it’s important to us then) One day we will see. And when we do see, I think our response will be “THANK GOD ….thank you Lord that it worked out that way… “maybe my earlier death saved me from a future life of sin and sorrow.” Once we see that all of this was part of God’s perfect love for you and for me… I believe we will say, “thanks be to God.”
But for now, we must trust and endure the suffering and pain of these tragedies, knowing that God is with us. As Mother Teresa once said, “God may not take us out of the storm, but will be with us in the storm.” So let’s hang on and help one another thru our sorrows. And as we do this, God will give us peace… and “all will be well with our souls.”