Category Archives: Suffering

Answers To Difficult Questions : Suffering

 

questions

WHERE’S GOD WHEN IT HURTS?

This question has probably created more atheists than any other question.

http://www.biblesociety.ca/free_scriptures/escriptures/it-hurts/it-hurts.html

This above link is a wonderful video to watch before you you read this article below.

If these kinds of attitudes accompany your answers to difficult questions, even the best argument will fail. Is the person more important than the answer? Are you arguing for God? He can defend Himself Just Fine. We as believers must be very careful with our words and have them seasoned with Love not pride because we can cause such pain with our words. Is it God to win an argument and damage seeking skeptics opportunity of future faith in Christ because of our attitude. Our words can push a person further away from God and the questions that people are asking are a good thing because they are searching for answers for life. If we are not able to give answers in the Holy Spirit, and easily loose our tempers and have a prideful spirit it is best to let another believer answer difficult questions or learn to walk in a grace and speak word even if they are hard words seasoned with he love of the Good News. Always remember that your actions will speak louder than you arguments. You life is a living message and represents the King of Kings. When you are arguing and debating, people are listening especially if they know you are a believer. They will be listening how you will answer for many reasons to see if you are being judgmental (speaking down to doubters with pride), are hypocritical (not living your answer),  being exclusive (a know it all and treating people as outsiders in a we are better than you because we live a clean and moral life).

In His Grace Forever,

Young Adult Crisis Hotline

Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP

1-877-702-2GOD

Listen Before You Answer

Good counsel comes from those who combine empathy and insight.

James 1:19

A psychologist, counselor, and teacher shares his thoughts on how to speak to people in difficult circumstances.

The most important thing for us to recognize is that what people need most is understanding. While understanding always provides the foundation for other kinds of help, it is important in and of itself. Understanding is a wonderful gift to give others.

Having all the answers is overrated. Ask 20 people to tell you who has had the most influence on their lives, and in the vast majority of cases you will find the notable absence of the phrases “gives good advice” or “always provides great solutions to problems,” and the frequent presence of phrases such as “is a good listener” or “really understands.”

We all want to be understood. We want to be around people who show genuine humility, who empty themselves of their own concerns, and who give us their full attention. We are drawn to people who suspend their own needs to control and dominate and who display openness to our story. We seek relationships with people who really want to tune into the meaning of another’s experience and are willing to express that meaning back to us. And of course, such a posture invites us to look inside ourselves and recognize that we need to be that kind of person.

Two Steps to Understanding
1. Work on your listening skills. Listening is hard work because we are not just processing what others are communicating, we are seeking to pay attention not only to the meaning embedded in their words, but also to what they are not saying. In doing so we are not engaging in a process of evaluation but in a process that seeks to accept and value the other.

2. Expand your understanding of the problem. This takes us beyond the skills of listening to a broader view of the problem itself. Doctors are a good example of a combination of these two skills. They need to be good listeners and ask the right questions. But they also need to understand medical problems. Good process needs to be combined with good content.

—Rod J.K. Wilson Copyright © 2006 Rod J.K.Wilson. Adapted from How Do I Help a Hurting Friend. (Baker, 2006.) Used with permission.

Mistakes to Avoid When Answering Difficult Questions:

1. Impatience, unkindness, or intolerance for skeptics or people with genuine questions

2. Appearing brusque or prideful

3. Treating a legitimate question as if it could easily be answered

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

When dealing with tough questions about God and evil, the most severe weakness of some Christians has been the tendency to confront the apologetic challenge and fail to hear the voice of suffering behind the question, “Where is your God?” To not weep with the person who suffers, but rather offer platitudes, Bible verses, even excellent philosophical lectures, is like sending greeting cards to people in a burning building. We need to listen to the voice and not merely the words.

My hope is that Christians will become the apologetic—choosing to live in a way that is much more important than spoken words, no matter how articulate, profound, and convincing the arguments. They will, instead, work where there is human suffering and demonstrate to the world that God is doing something about it: he is sending us into the heart of it to heal it.

Christians are not likely to produce many new and satisfying answers to why and how God acts in pain and evil. But, in the future, they can come alongside others in hardship as they, with their lives as much as their words, try to show others how God enters the places of dark suffering. In these situations Christians can demonstrate how God does deal with evil—not as a theoretical challenge to be solved but as a tragedy to be remedied. In this way, Christians can live as people who have been enlightened by Jesus Christ, who was both victim and victor over evil and suff

ering.

—Chuck Smith Jr. And Matt Whitlock, Copyright © Chuck Smith Jr. and Matt Whitlock. Adapted from Frequently Avoided Questions. (Baker, 2005; ISBN 801065437) Used with permission.

 

Suffering Can Be Good

Series_suffering_love

"Why, God, why?"

When we let the cross shapes our theology.

Philippians 2:5–8

It is remarkable that there were so few attempts to solve the “problem of evil” prior to the 18th century. Certainly there was no shortage of suffering and disaster. Life was nasty, brutish, and short. In Martin Luther’s day the Black Death had decimated the population of Europe and still threatened. Villages and towns lived in constant dread of fires and natural disasters.

Is it not curious that only when life seems to be easier do thinkers set out to “justify God”? Perhaps it is as Hannah Arendt remarks, “When man could no longer praise, they turned their greatest conceptual efforts to justifying God.” But the problem of suffering should not just be rolled up with the problem of evil. Only false speaking lures us into doing that.

This world is no stranger to suffering. The last one hundred years–which saw greater technological and medical advances than people living in previous centuries could ever have imagined–witnessed suffering, pain, and despair on a nearly inconceivable scale. Disease and sickness, earthquakes and other natural disasters, war and genocide, poverty and death–a stranger to Earth might be forgiven for concluding that suffering was the defining element of our world.

And suffering in its myriad varieties continues to this day, scaled to fit our everyday lives. We–and people we know and see around us–struggle daily against a world full of pain, a world full of hurts that seem to serve no purpose beyond inflicting misery. Some people struggle to feed and shelter their families; others to understand the loss of a loved one, to find the strength to keep standing beneath the weight of a terrible illness, to lift their eyes to heaven and demand an answer to the age-old question: "Why, God, why?"

I don’t know what you’re suffering. Maybe it’s one of these horrors. Perhaps it’s much more personal, more mundane. We each live unique lives with unique hurts, sharing in common an experience of a world that just doesn’t seem to work like it should. Each of us suffers personally, in ways that no other person can understand.

Is there hope? Is there an answer to be found? There is, although we may not see it yet. In the meantime, this most important fact remains: we do not suffer alone. That is the promise of God. "… we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:17-8). "For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows" (2 Corinthians 1:5).

WHERE’S GOD WHEN IT HURTS?

This question has probably created more atheists than any other question. Worse, the seething anger that sometimes lies behind it has probably created more insane people than any other. And justly so. While faith in God doesn’t logically stand or fall just on this matter, it hinges on it more than any other so far as our experience of life and faith is concerned.

If that offends some of you, well, tough. True, we have no right at all to expect or demand a suffering-free state of false bliss that would leave each and all of us as bored living a sterile and stupid life. That is, if you can call something ‘life’ which has no challenge, no learning, no growing, all of which only come through trial, error, taking part, success, pain, loss, and suffering. (We can safely ignore the many fools who think that way.) But does there have to be the kind of suffering that some people go through? Suffering of apparently unquenchable pain, immeasurable loss, utter hopelessness, total abandonment? Suffering that will end in a slow death, like lung cancer? The very fact that there is such suffering gives good cause to doubt not only the value of the whole human race, but also the existence of any God that can be said to care in the slightest for what’s been created, any God who has power over all things, any God who is anything other than a horrible brute who finds sadistic whimsical joy in squeezing every last drop of suffering out of them. It would seem to rule out anything even vaguely resembling the God that Christians speak of — and rule in a God who deserves our utter hatred not our worship.

Except for one thing ……..

…except that God knows this is true, and set out to do something about it. Not by overriding the freedom God had put into nature and into creatures, especially the human ones. Not by working instant repairs on the universe so that all is blissfully well (that would be a jerk-God, a more powerful version of the fools I wrote off earlier), or by pulling a string here or there from a distance. But by choosing to fully take part in what is happening. The choice : soiled ancient diapers, skinned childhood knees, and dirtied adult feet. God felt what acceptance and rejection are like at a human level. 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. God taught them in their language, with sound waves instead of spiritual whispers, from within their tradition, from within the world they knew, a world teeming with truth smothered in their own lies. But even more : God had to face the ultimate in human rejection — to be publicly executed for having spoken and lived the truth. That’s something not even God wanted to go through, but the whole point of it all was to go through things that no one wants to go through, if that’s what it takes to complete the task at hand, for real. (In fact, that’s what ‘for real’ is all about.)

Jesus was that choice. Jesus is the divine answer to suffering. Jesus is the answer a Christian has to the problem of suffering. Jesus knows. Jesus cares. And Jesus is suffering alongside each one who suffers, ever more so as the suffering increases. The ‘why’ of suffering is a m

ystery; you’ll never know the reason why, or even if there is a reason. The reply of God is no mystery, or at least, no more mysterious than love itself.

"Mystery is not the absence of meaning, but the presence of more meaning than we can comprehend"
—- Dennis Covington

"You need not cry very loud; God is nearer to us than we think."
—— Brother Lawrence

BUT, HE’S NOT HERE ANYMORE …

Yet Jesus is not the Christian’s answer to suffering by Himself. The phrase that the New Testament used for describing the fellowship of Christ’s followers is "the Body of Christ". Jesus is the head of the Body. That, of course, means that Jesus is not the arms, legs, hands, and such. That is what the believers are. As Paul saw it, they are a unit, a whole, just as a human body is a whole, yet each believer is an identifiable part with a function in the overall Body.

Jesus is no longer physically here. His role as head is signaled to the Body through the Spirit, the nerve impulses that cause the Body to work. Jesus can no longer hold the hand of the sufferer, wrap His arms around them, and give the comfort of a physical embrace. He can no longer move His legs to where the sufferers are, so that He can physically address them face to face, look them in the eyes, grasp hold of their needs, render through sound waves the needed words of comfort or challenge, lay hands to bring physical healing. That role is to be done by the Body of Christ in the physical world — that is, by the believers, as a whole, in subgroups and organizations, and as people.

If you want to see a key part of God’s answer to suffering, look into a mirror. If what you’re looking at isn’t much of an answer to anyone’s suffering, then pray that the Spirit’s signals start directing you.

Good Suffering

Evil does cause suffering—but not always. Love can cause suffering. Beauty can be the occasion for suffering. Children with their demands and impetuous cries can cause suffering. Just the toil and trouble and stress of daily life can cause suffering. Yet surely these are not to be termed evil. Humans have an unfortunate tendency to try to prove that God has nothing to do with suffering and evil. Meanwhile, suffering goes on.

Martin Luther suffered spiritually and physically. But he saw God’s hand in the suffering and wrote: “He kills our will that his may be established in us. He subdues the flesh and its lusts that the spirit and its desires may come to life.” Beyond his own experience—based, in fact, on the cross—he asserted that whoever does not know God hidden in suffering does not know God at all. If God has nothing to do with suffering, what is he involved with?

Salvation Through Suffering

Suffering, the Bible proves, can be redemptive. This must be the case because it is only through suffering and the cross that sinners can see and come to know God. The cross is suffering. But it is suffering from God and it is good. That is the deepest reason why we call the Friday of the crucifixion good.


Rather than knowing God in a way that would be convenient for us, the only way to know God is through suffering, the suffering of the one who saves us. Luther called this a theology of the cross—a theology that calls a spade a spade, and suffering, when it is redemptive, good.

—Gerhard O. Forde, Adapted from On Being a Theologian of the Cross, © 1997 by Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI. Used with permission; all rights reserved. To order this book on demand title, contact the publisher at 800.253.7521 or visit www.eerdmans.com.

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