Why does God allow pain and suffering?

Even as I left the studio, I wondered what the good folks at Explore God would do with the one-hour, unscripted interview that was just recorded. Apparently, it finds its way back into videos like these, under the banner of the Curiosity Collective which “brings together thought leaders, subject matter experts, pastors, and theologians to explore these questions.”

They explore questions like: How do we even know there is a God? Or, how do you talk to God? Or, why do we need community? In this video, we cover the question: why does God allow pain and suffering? And I was spliced in near the end of the video.

I really liked how it came out: tasteful, thoughtful, and hopefully pointing beyond just ourselves, but to a greater reality all around us.

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8 Comments

  1. Very interesting clip to me considering my present experience… My 28-yr-old son-in-law has Stage 4 “incurable” cancer. One questioned that turned up for me as I listened to the individuals who were processing their experience of suffering was, What is God’s role in my experience of suffering? All were giving solemn and impassioned attempts to answer the “why” of suffering. But with the exception of the one woman, all felt to me merely cerebral answers to the hard question of suffering. There is a lot of lamenting involved with suffering and for some that is taken as complaining noise. There is a lot of grieving with suffering and for many that feels like an absence of faith (ie. Job’s story). Only the one woman who lost her child sends the message that God can be present with her in her suffering. What is God’s role? Is it to give us airtight reasons to justify suffering, or is it to be palpably be there with us as we suffer?

    Reply

    1. Dan, I’m really sorry to hear about your son-in-law. Now I get what Tammy was referring to, and it must be an incredibly difficult time for you and your family. It is right to grieve. God didn’t promise us a perfect life, health, or a full bank account. His promise over and over again is to be with us.

      Did you sense the speakers giving airtight reasons to justify suffering?

      Reply

    2. Also, the speakers weren’t answering that particular question — at least, that was true for me. We were asked all kinds of questions, and the editors took our replies and spliced them together around a topic.

      Reply

      1. James, I am blessed by your sensitivity and kind words towards my situation. Your heart communicates safety to me.

        Indeed the speakers in the video piece, including you, were not just driving at reasons to justify suffering. I would be misrepresenting the content and message of the piece if I said that was my main takeaway from listening to it.

        I heard some lamenting. So freeing… I sensed in every speaker, a strong underlying invitation to the Lord to incarnate into his or her journey of suffering. And those two things are important (as I have come to recognize) to my own healing from the wounds of my suffering. But the question itself and bits of the comments in the video typically elicits some theological response or mental construct. Although of themselves they are important because they provide a compass that helps lead us to where we find the healing that we need, the mental constructs alone do not heal, as I have come to experience. Unfortunately some with good intention, try to propose or impose it on the suffering to palliate their pain resulting usually in more wounding to the suffering person. But only an incarnate response from the Lord truly heals. And the woman in the video was the only one who gave a concrete experience of an incarnate response from the Lord. The battle towards healing (if I can call it that) is waged mental to mental, emotion to emotion, authority to authority, power to power… A mental response to an emotional need will not suffice.

        Reply

        1. Fully agree with what you’re saying, Dan. And may God continue to bring the people around you who are connecting on the levels that help, instead of hurt.

          Reply

          1. Thanks for dialoguing with me on this, James. You have contributed to my catharsis. :) That’s quite a gift!

        2. “…only an incarnate response from the Lord truly heals.”

          Dan, thank you for sharing your struggle and search for His presence. I am moved by your response, and am praying for you and Tammy.

          Reply

          1. Daniel, it’s “new wineskin” for me. It’s an amazing journey with the Lord.
            Thanks and bless you!

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