Human Wrecks. We rejoice for our own gain, our own health. Carson, D.A. The Old Testament book of Job is one source that Christians and Jews turn to for explanations to human suffering and pain. It has to do with the fact that we don't live in the Kingdom. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. that by yourself, you flail and fall and fail -- and so does everyone else. [7] Clines, D.J. The book of Job legitimates “the quest of believers for self-understanding and meaning, while at the same time encouraging them to display emotional integrity and candor in their relationships with God and others. As a God who has died and has risen. Of apparently unquenchable pain, immeasurable loss, utter hopelessness, total abandonment? These affront our sense of the world’s fairness. Let’s face it. They say that if he repents he’ll escape his suffering and receive God’s blessing. Isn’t suffering the work of satan? In the face of suffering and injustice, human beings have the responsibility to pursue and display morality, compassion, justice, freedom, and hope. They seek to demonstrate that God is omnipotent, all-loving, and just—despite the existence of misery and evil. God suffers the way of a lover being wronged, the way of a father awaiting his lost son. Job’s friends believed in a doctrine of divine retribution—a belief that God rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked in this life. I think Smedes' final observation hits upon what I see as a sore spot with many of the churches that most boast about healings: all too many Christians "expect and celebrate God's triumph over our suffering while we show little readiness to suffer for and with the people whose suffering never gets healed." Lewis. “The Book of Job”, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. The book of Job denies the doctrine of divine retribution. [1] Sin has entered the world and brought death, disease, division, and destruction. The sun continues to beat down on people, scorching them and causing them to suffer. The breadth of suffering in the world raises profound questions about the nature of God, and his involvement in human life. And, human bodies and the creation are frail. The reality is that when we fail to trust God in our suffering, we will find ourselves blaming … © 2016 All rights reserved. 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. The choice: soiled ancient diapers, skinned childhood knees, and dirtied adult feet. You learn that more good things happen when you cooperate. Where is God when we suffer? We don’t have to settle for superficial answers to the problem of suffering and evil. 5. At the same time, Job rejects the doctrine of corruption (everything suffers because everything is corrupt). "I come from a situation that for good and bad had a heightened expectation for healing. The experience of what we experience when we suffer, first heartbeat to last. God suffers the way of a lover being wronged, the way of a father awaiting his lost son. [10] Lella, A.D. “An Existential Interpretation of Job”, in Biblical Theology, 15, April 1985, p. 51. Theodicies strive to resolve the problem of evil and suffering for a theological system. Baker, 2006. Spiritual gifts are from the Strongest One acting through the weak on behalf of the weakest. Job shows us that when people suffer we should listen to them compassionately, instead of offering them clichéd answers that do not satisfy their pain. Human suffering destroys and beats people down. Some of the simpler answers include responses like 1) we suffer as a direct result of our sin; 2) we suffer as the consequence of someone else’s sin; 3) we suffer because we live in a fallen world; 4) we suffer because God wants to teach us something; 5) it is not for us to know; and so on. The question remains, if God takes pleasure in us then why do the innocent suffer? We live in a disordered, broken existence, and this brokenness includes our bodies. And it rejects the stoic idea that we are required to transcend our misfortunes in this life and receive our reward in the next. A. But some answers are given, and these ideas can be explored. Even within pain & suffering, God can fill our hearts with faith, hope, love, joy. That, of course, means that Jesus is not the arms, legs, hands, and such. It’s important to reflect, then, on our response to suffering. HarperCollins, 1996. p. 91. Habel, N.C. “The Book of Job”, in The Old Testament Library. God felt what acceptance and rejection and pain are like at a human level. C.S. He looses livestock, friends, property, health, and his sons and daughters. Or run-of-the-mill empires that knaves make worse! Even if God wanted to show compassion on a sinful humanity, the justice of God would not allow it. "Don't look forward to the day you stop suffering, because when it comes you'll know  you're dead." You and I will suffering in this life. The book of Job offers no definitive answer to the problem of human misery. The Book of Job seems apt for our times. [3] Kushner, Harold S. “Why Do the Righteous Suffer? If God suffers with us, and often has something in mind to come from it, ought we start to think that suffering is good? Why am I personally suffering? The reality of suffering doesn’t change that. We don’t have to settle for superficial answers to the problem of suffering and evil. back to top, "In seeking God's power, I discovered his person. CLC, 1993. Gumbel, N. Searching Issues: Suffering. In the book, Job is never condemned for questioning God. But by choosing to fully take part in what is happening. Copyright © 2019 The Global Church Project Ltd | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy | Website by Endure Web Studios. Righteous and innocent people may suffer deeply in every sphere of life (physical, social, spiritual, and emotional). That’s what, now the where. So the question I have pondered and cried out is why ? He only watches.” But there is more. The response Jesus gave was to bear the burdens of those he touched. Why God doesn't eliminate suffering in our life? 12 1994. Whether or not we can see it, our suffering has a purpose. I suspect that Smedes' strict Calvinist upbringing might have predisposed him to distrust celebration. Urgent reminder. The story of Job is not God’s last word. This is the effect of being part of a broken, sinful world. Not by overriding the freedom God had put into nature and into creatures, especially the human ones. Since God is completely good, how could He use suffering? In the book of Job, theodicies are at best represented as the impetuous young Elihu, who is full of hot air. Job’s friends offered clichés for suffering. That is, if you can call something 'life' which has no challenges, no repentances, no learning, no growing, all of which only come through trial, error, taking part, success, pain, loss, and hurt. But, at times, such hope does help make the suffering of this life more bearable—and direct our hearts and minds to our eternal hope in Jesus Christ. God walked among people in the same way they walk among each other, talk to them at their level, with their sufferings small and large, face to face, person to person. The Problem of Pain. It is filled with practical counsel and encouragement drawn from a life that has experienced the pain of trekking through some of life's darkest moments. That’s the good news. Such thoughts don’t always comfort us when we suffer, or when we’ve lost someone we love. (p.20). Why suffer? addresses the topic from up close and personal as well as from the objective view of Scripture. The kingdom of God is rest and shade and renewal and hope, but it isn’t some kind of giant umbrella that protects us from all pain. Every Christmas, Christians celebrate (or are supposed to celebrate) this choice. Yet, somehow, in the midst of this chaos, God works out his purposes—bringing hope, healing, peace, and new life. Where is God When We Suffer? "You need not cry very loud; God is nearer to us than we think. Jesus is no longer physically here. The issue is ventilated, and partial answers are offered by Job’s friends. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Jesus' example is that of putting others first, not ourselves or those we think of as being like us. It is seen as bad, wrong, and unjust, and it need to be reconciled with our understanding of the one good God. Jenna rated it really liked it Aug 04, 2012. His role as head is signaled to the Body through the Spirit, the nerve impulses that cause the Body to work. [2], In this life, we experience suffering and pain. In his hand is the soul of every living thing, and the life breath of all humankind.”[12]. Everyone suffers. : What the Bible Says about Suffering: Lynn Gardner: Books .... Name your system, and the devil will be there." › Even as the sun beats down, in that very same moment, the kingdom of God provides rest and shade and food. But only some, and definitely not most. 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. (Note that I’ve said he uses not causes suffering for his people. But there is a more serious kind of strange feeling over celebrating, a strange feeling that is more relevant to spiritual concerns. And we then stop and pray that God shows us how to be of service in Jesus' work of bring wholeness where there is suffering. 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. It is this delight in us that caused Christ to endure the suffering of the Cross, and that causes God to be both a “suffering God” and a “crucified God.” He offers us eternal freedom from pain and suffering, even though we often suffer greatly in this lifetime. 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." An elderly man groans in pain, longing for release. There have been some contemplative writers and teachers who thought so. 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. The only difference and comfort for a Christian is that death doesn't have the final word. And taking us through suffering, not out of it, is one of the primary means that the Spirit uses today in bringing us to God." When Bad Things Happen to Good People. It’s far removed from the Augustinian theodicy (the free will defense), the Irenaean theodicy (the soul-building theodicy incorporating a consequentialist ethic), or the Leibnizian theodicy (the best of all possible worlds theodicy). And justly so. The innocent & righteous will & do suffer. Instead, God responds in the divine-human encounter, allowing Job to glimpse the respective places of God and human beings in the universe. That is not the purpose of this ancient drama. But human will, the laws of nature, human sin, and the brokenness of the world all combine to contribute to the suffering of the innocent; exculpating God and the sufferer from responsibility. Jesus was that choice. Remember the Cross, the Resurrection, and Christ’s Return (The Cross shows us that God suffers and shares our pain. How do we make sense of this suffering? Now, I think God is with all of us, and we’ll end today’s time with that. But, he is also the “resurrected and returning God,” who offers the hope of the new creation and the restoration of all things. If we believe “good” has to do with everything going well for us, when the kids are finally in bed and Hulu+ is on, and the paycheck keeps coming regularly, and everyone is relatively healthy all the time…if that’s what we mean by God’s “good,” we are going to be very disappointed as Christians. At their very best, they eliminate a particular suffering of a particular person. Job questions God vigorously—not in a logical or consistent manner, but in one motivated by grief and inner turmoil. 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. This is the effect of being part of a broken, sinful world. (In fact, that's what 'for real' is all about. (3) The amazing amount of health in this broken world is a greater sign and wonder than an occasional healing from illness. It's the right instinct. Where is God when we suffer? The spiritual gains don't come from your ordeal, or even from the suffering itself. But it’s perfect for rest and shade and food. Suffering. In a way, the gifts are geared toward suffering, because spiritual gifts are meant to be for the good of others. But Christ does have the Body of Christ in the physical world -- that is, the believers, as a whole, in subgroups and organizations, as a people, and as persons. Tilley was correct when he wrote that the book of Job “displays the cost of providing the ‘systematic totalization’ a theodicy requires: silencing the voice of the sufferer, even if s/he curses the day s/he was born and accuses God of causing human suffering.”[8]. ------ Brother Lawrence (Nicolas Herman). do I suffer for Your sake?" Alpha, 2008. That is what the believers are. 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. He doesn’t requires us to settle for petty or trite answers about the nature, meaning, and origins of evil and suffering. Suffering can (but doesn’t always) lead to hope. 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. God Was Right There. The simple answer is that God is where people suffer most. 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