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Question of the Week 15 - Why would a good and loving God use suffering to change us and make us grow spiritually?

Breakpoint Parents Guide 1

The BreakPoint answer is: Evil is real, but it is not part of the original creation, it is not inherent in reality and one day it will be cast out. Its hold on reality is only temporary. In the meantime, the wonder of God's character is that he can take even the worst of evils, the crucifixion of his sinless Son, and turn it to good ends: to defeat Satan; to save, strengthen, and purify us; and to bring glory and honor to himself. God's purposes are the context that give meaning and significance to suffering.

The answer implies that we suffer so that if we recover we will bring glory and honor to God. Sometimes suffering is our fault, so we should learn not to do it again. ‘We don't need to be tormented by our guilt or the weight of sin’ but we should just pray to God. This answer implies our suffering comes from God because he provides the meaning and significance to that suffering.

A more rational approach to suffering is recognizing that everything is not perfect. Sometimes things will go as planned but sometimes not. We can enjoy our successes because they came due to our efforts. We can learn from our failures if we maintain optimism. Extreme suffering, which could include death, must also be recognized as part of life. The human body is not perfect and it is very complex. Various diseases and ailments are possible of course though in many cases proper diet, hygiene and exercise maintain the health of the body so that its own defense mechanisms are efficient.

Man is part of nature which is of course very complex as well. In this interaction not all will go as planned. Accidents and disasters can occur. The rational response to such suffering is not as described in the Bible, about the blind man: ‘Why was this man born blind? Because of his own sin or his parents' sin?’ This response is consistent with the belief that all suffering comes from God and in this case the disciples assumed that the condition of blindness was given this man as a punishment.

Such suffering is not a punishment. It must be recognized as a consequence of the natural processes that exist. Any number conditions of human suffering, like blindness or arthritis, exist because of nature, just as those of a larger scope like hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis.

It can be comforting to believe that God is in control and that is why any one of these conditions of suffering has been brought into one’s life because with this belief nature is assumed to remain benign, or perhaps benevolent, and God brings in the extremes (good and suffering). Unfortunately, nature is not partial to good or evil. Both must exist if one exists. That simple rational conclusion must be part of dealing with any suffering.

The original link in case the article ever returns to Breakpoint:
(http://www.pfm.org/Content/ContentGroups/BreakPoint/Columns/ Worldview_for_Parents/200311/Question_of_the_Week15.htm)


created - Dec. 2004
last change - 12/31/2004
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