The Problem With Suffering, Part 1
AS YOU CAN IMAGINE, INJECTING JESUS INTO A PUBLIC FORUM like Twitter can illicit all kinds of reactions. While some gave an “Amen!” to Wentz’s statements, others fired back through Twitter with comments like, “Maybe Jesus or God could show up BEFORE 50 die and 400 are injured.”
Responses like this reveal one of the major stumbling blocks people have with Christianity. Tim Keller writes, “For many people it is not the exclusivity of Christianity that poses the biggest problem, it is the presence of evil and suffering in the world.” How can a loving and good God allow suffering?
How can we respond to people when the presence of suffering is the cause for their rejection of God? This is the first of a four-part series where I would like to offer some thoughts on this subject so that we can engage with those who struggle with these thoughts and feelings.
But before we consider a philosophical response to this challenge to our faith, and before we offer a defense to the goodness and sovereignty of God; our first response must simply be to weep with those who weep.
Reflecting on the massacre in Las Vegas, Bob Lepine wrote, “Satisfactory answers to these questions may never come. In the meantime, Christians can pray for the families and friends of the victims; for the injured and traumatized survivors; and for the first responders, leaders, and pastors in Las Vegas. And before we offer answers, we lament together. We weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
When we are instructed to “weep with those who weep,” there is an implication of being nearby. To weep with someone who is weeping implies that you are more than empathetic. But it implies that you are moved to compassion, you are moved to come alongside. That is what Jesus did when he entered this world of suffering. His response to this suffering world was not a philosophical answer. Rather his response was to come and enter into our suffering and to die for us. And so we hear his cry of suffering from the cross, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”
We get frustrated when we don’t always have answers to the various objections people have to Jesus and the goodness of God. And yet, perhaps the greatest response we can give to the suffering in this world is simple to come alongside and “weep with those who weep.”
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