Sunday, July 22, 2012

God & Suffering - A Response To Aurora

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God....” (Romans 8:28)

I’ve shared these thoughts before, but in light of the tragic shooting this past week in Aurora, Colorado I felt they were worth sharing again…

When bad things happen to good people, is it God’s ‘punishment’? When evil seems to triumph, where is God? Doesn’t the suffering that Jesus went through in his last days ‘prove’ God either doesn’t exist or doesn’t care about our human  hurt?”  These are some of the questions I often people ask in the face of our pain and suffering.  How can Christians reconcile belief in a good, loving and powerful God in the face of natural disasters, tragedies, and the spectre of human evil?

There are obviously no easy, pat answers to such complex questions.  However, the words of one author that I also shared several years ago I still believe capture the essence of what we need to recognize and remember in such circumstances...

“Suffering and tragedy is not God’s desire for us, but it does occur in the process of life.  Suffering and tragedy is not given to teach us something, but through it we may learn. It’s not given to teach others something, but through it they may learn.  It’s not given to punish us, but sometimes it is the consequences of our bad judgement.  Suffering is not given, and tragedy does not come to us because our faith is weak, but through it our faith my be strengthened.  God does not depend on human suffering to achieve His purposes, but sometimes through suffering His purposes are achieved.  Suffering can either destroy us or it can add meaning to our lives.”  
            [–Rev. Ray Firestone, shared by Rev. Adam Hamilton in his sermon The Gospel In the Face of Grief” in the series Questions for God In the Face of Tragedy (May 3, 1998)]

My prayer is that whatever difficult or challenging thing it is that you are facing (including wrestling with the “why” of the pain and senseless shooting tragedy in Aurora), you will know that God is with you and all who suffer, that He wants to redeem those difficulties in order to make something good out of it, that He wants to give all who suffer hope and help us to make it through, primarily through the assistance of other people. 

Of course, this means that we have a responsibility to do what we can to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who are suffering (which is why our church is constantly sharing ways that you can make a difference out of the disasters and tragedies of our world).  So my prayer is that in addition to praying for our brothers and sisters who suffer, we will do what we can to help them in tangible ways, as well.  God bless you as you remember to be generous to others in the same way that God has been generous to you, so that the suffering of others is relieved and hope is birthed!  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

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