Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Short Thought on Suffering

The events of the last few months have caused one question to continually be on my mind. It is more present at some moments and less at others but it is always somewhere nearby.

It’s the most often asked faith-based question in the world. Every faith tries to answer it. Spiritual leaders wrestles with it. And when it wrestles with you — spiritual or not, leader or not — you will ask this question as well.

You may word the question any number of ways:

“Why is there so much suffering in the world?” 
or
“If the world is created by an all powerful God, why is there so much pain?
or
“If God loves me, why am I suffering?”

Over the past few months I have seen and experienced plenty of suffering. And the question comes back. Not so much because of what’s happening to me. I’m fairly laid back and trusting. But, watching those I love who are suffering from leukemia, parkinson's disease, pancreatic cancer and more brings the question into sharp focus. Why is this happening? Must they suffer? Is there reason amidst the chaos? How can I understand and explain this suffering?

It wasn’t until I was in hospital, listening to the stories around me, and watching the ones who serve those who are suffering (nurses, spouses, parents, children) that I realised I was facing the topic from the wrong angle. I was facing it from a victim mentality instead of a victor mentality. We can choose. There is plenty of evil in the world to decimate the victims. But there are warriors among the dying. Why?

Because they have repositioned themselves in their approach to suffering. From watching them, I think many of these servants would be unable to explain their viewpoint. But they live it.

Here’s what I’ve seen:
There are those who ask: “Why is this suffering happening to me?” 
And there are those who ask: “What can I do to lessen the suffering I see?” 

There is a huge paradigm shift between “Why me?” and “How can I help?”
The warriors among us have transitioned from trying to explain suffering to working to expel it.

And that, I believe, is the best answer any of us can give to the suffering world.

How can I help?