By: Molly T. Marshall
The Bible teaches that suffering is instructive. However, it does not suggest that that there is divine purpose behind every natural cataclysm. Horrific events are part of a groaning, unfinished creation.
By: Agnes Howard
Christians beheaded in Libya. Artifacts smashed in Iraq. Jihadists in Brooklyn. The news seems so terrible lately, but we can't shelter ourselves from what is going on in the world.
By: Rupen Das
On that first Good Friday, the disciples didn't know that there was going to be an Easter Sunday. That first Saturday after Jesus' death was a time of desolation and mourning. We all must face such Saturdays.
By: Blake McKinney
Where is God when we hurt? God is frustratingly silent about the question of why suffering happens, but he has a great deal to say about what he is doing about suffering.
The journey of despair away from Jerusalem ends in a journey of joy back to Jerusalem. And before they could even speak about their experience of seeing the risen Lord, the disciples go ahead and declare, “Simon has seen Jesus.” They were not the only ones to see the living Lord that day.[ ]“We were hoping” turns into “We are hoping.” Death turns into life.
Where is God when bad things happen? To the person who is hurting, our canned religious answers seem hollow, shallow and often insulting. Suffering is no respecter of persons.
When we see people in pain and recognize human suffering in others, our compassion springs up. But why do we wait until people are hurting to love fiercely?
What Paul is saying is simply this: The world is groaning. We are groaning. And the Spirit is groaning with us, and God will bring it out for the good. Another way of saying that God causes all things to work out for good is to say that God redeems all that God permits. God didn’t break our world, and God doesn’t cause all our suffering. But if He allows it, He will eventually redeem it.
Like Job, Jesus, Shady Hook parents and families, and the rest of the world, we wonder if God has forgotten or abandoned us when innocents suffer.
Will you stop and make hope visible in the week ahead when you hear someone crying for help?
Maybe what God wants for his children even more than pleasure is joy. And maybe he knows that the way to joy is not around suffering, but through it.
During this season of Lent, let us hear with open ears and courageous hearts what Jesus told his disciples: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” How will we respond to this challenging invitation?
On this Transfiguration Sunday, we are invited to look and listen. May God open our eyes to look and see God’s glory. May God open our ears to listen and hear Christ’s voice.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever.
(RNS) Katrina brought in its wake untold property damage and emotional distress to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, but also something deeper.
Many have tried to deal with and solve the problem of why God allows evil and suffering. While no explanation is adequate, we can follow the pattern of many of the psalms of lament.
When Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was, Peter's answer revealed that he didn't have a clear picture of Jesus' mission. How often do we see Jesus as a source of human power?
The world's suffering can shake our faith in God's providence. Yet God moves and shapes creation toward God's divine and righteous will, even as that purpose is challenged by the power of evil and suffering.
Why is there so much pain in the world when there is an omnipotent God? Many struggle with this question when they reflect on Haiti. Let's not allow our questions to deter our help. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)
As we watch the images of crushing suffering brought on by the earthquake in Haiti, we must remember that Jesus is with those who suffer and is suffering with them. Will we be at his side?
If God's all powerful, why wouldn't he stop suffering? If he's good, why would he allow it? As we view the devastating images from Haiti, these questions have no satisfying answer, but we must still ask.
When disaster strikes anywhere in the world, armchair debaters of all varieties speculate what it says about the existence and compassion of God. For those of faith, there is a better way forward.
What if we changed the way we relate to one another? What if we treated each other the way Jesus treated his neighbors? What if we lived our lives the way he did? What if we arranged our values and priorities the way he did? Wouldn’t it make the world better and eliminate a lot of pain and suffering?
The church is Jesus to a world in need of prophetic voices, serving hands and feet, and compassionate hearts. Yet we have forgotten that the body of Christ should also be broken.
But if he loved something more than his life, then it was possible to give it away. That road carries the reality of suffering, not as its purpose but as a consequence. Life lived by the fruits of God’s spirit, values such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, kindness and self control, do not tend to be highly esteemed in our culture. These are not the virtues that earn million dollar bonues.
Which brings us back to the disciples. I am talking about us. God needs us to “listen to him.” Our world is far from the peace we long for. We are far from the people we could be. But Jesus is in the world, in the room. Listen to his voice in worship, a Sunday School class, the spiritual life retreat, a small group, a serving ministry. He is all that you need, the hope of the world. And he will lead you to life.
Jesus is the Messiah, even in the midst of our suffering. No, Jesus is the Messiah especially in our suffering. Jesus is Messiah even when we are down in the dungeon, even when we have lost our joy.
There are those who justify suffering as part of what contributes to making strong character. Many fine writers have written from this viewpoint—that there is value in the troubles, sorrows and traumas we encounter.
Anyone who is even slightly observant about the happenings in our world must draw the conclusion that there is indeed great suffering across God's creation.