Nakedpastor.com put the cartoon together…he admits IN HIS OWN WORDS (click here to read them if you want) that these are "silly generalizations"…but in many respects, they are not. The point is, everyone deals with times of suffering differently and religious traditions have put forth their "answers" to how to handle suffering in life. The amazing thing about being a follower of Jesus is that we serve a God is victorious over suffering…who brings something out of suffering that can build a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives….God never wastes a moment of suffering in our lives. In other words, it is not that He brings suffering but actually uses the experiences of pain and doubt and fear to further our dependance upon Him, demonstrate His ultimate victory over pain, and bring meaning and depth to our life journey. I know, most of us want to ask, "why me?" when suffering occurs…but the point of faith and trust in God is that we have the God of the Universe walking with us in and through the suffering. I have a friend now who is in the midst of a deadly cancer battle. The cancer will take his life…no doubt. His heart is full of peace…his mind, not always full of confidence…but the hope he has in God is, well, frankly miraculous. Is he suffering? Yes…does he know who ultimately will have the final say in his health? Yes…that brings him hope…that brings even the cancer some perspective. I remember when he told me in his own words, "Robin, I'm terminal"…I told him, "Bob, we all are terminal…all we can do as people is live one day at a time with hope in our hearts, love to share that comes from Jesus, and a passion for all things related to God's Kingdom"…you see, we're all on the same page, one way or another!
Here are some things that I've concluded in my experience with suffering as well as trying to make sense of what the bible says about it – in other words, try these on for size:
- God does not directly cause suffering
- God sometimes overcomes evil not by directly removing it but by accomplishing His purposes through it
- He frustrates suffering and turns it into good.
- Suffering will one day pass away – God's ultimate purpose in restoring the Kingdom of God.
- We do not want to approach suffering passively but seek to do as Jesus did and instructs us to do
- The Reality of a broken world with evil and alive and well in the world brings suffering upon people