“The Issue of Suffering”
Scripture has some difficult texts
Exodus20:5 (part of the 10 Commandments) - punishing children for iniquity of their parents
Leviticus 26:14 penalty for disobedience to the law
Jeremiah 27: 1-8 destruction as punishment
So where do you find hope?
Hebrews 13: 5-6 “the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid”
Isaiah 41: 10 “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”
Psalm 46: 1 “God is our refuge and our strength…
2 Corinthians 12: 9 “My grace is sufficient…
Romans 8: 28 “All things work together for good….”
Questions often asked
If God is good, he would not want us to suffer If God is all powerful, he could prevent it. Have I done something wrong or been a bad person, am I being punished? Why is this happening to me? Why do good people suffer, and bad people prosper?
- punishment for bad behaviour
- random chance- exists without meaning
- part of the divine plan – we only see part of God’s purposes
- we wouldn’t appreciate the good without experiencing the bad
- character building
- some good will come out of it
- will be balanced out in the next life…
Some useful quotes
Anon “Its not about believing the right things but living out the struggle of faith.”
Spong “Christianity does not free us from pain or evil, but it does give us the ability to transform them so that life becomes full to the limits available to that life and therefore a blessing to those who are touched by that life.”
Paul Tillich “Faith results from the questions we ask, not the answers we get.”
Frankl “No matter what our experience or fate, we are free to choose our attitude towards the experience, toward life. So we can find meaning and hope even in the darkest days.”
Jaffe Hershel “I didn’t choose my illness….since it is happening to me I can choose to make the best of it; I can use it and learn from it, shape it into a positive force in my life…I’ve learned how vulnerable we are, that our lives are in God’s hands. I know what’s really important now…”
Elizabeth Kubler Ross “In the washing machine of life you choose either crushed or polished.’
Anon “Not “why” but “now what?” How can I live into the future in a life-affirming way and not life-denying ways? How can I live for something and not just against something.”
Where is God in all this? and Where am I in all this?
A prayer found on a piece of wrapping paper near the body of a dead child in Ravensbruck Nazi Concentration Camp, where it is estimated that 92,000 women and children died. O Lord, remember not only the men and women of goodwill but also those of illwill. But do not only remember the suffering they have inflicted on us. Remember the fruits we bought thanks to this suffering – Our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, The greatness of heart which has grown out of all this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.
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