I would like to take a moment to respond to the letter written by Mr. Don Burr. He shared an alternate viewpoint to those printed in the Ask A Pastor column taking on the topics of suffering, healing, and favorite Bible passages. I will focus my comments on his thoughts about suffering.
Mr. Burr, I hope you will consider that God is not ours to judge. The situation is quite the opposite. God is infinite, all-powerful, and all-knowing. It should not surprise us then to find out that there are some questions that He will not be able to answer to our liking. Like a neurosurgeon attempting to explain his work to a kindergarten class, some things are just over our heads.
That being said, God is a big boy and does not need me to defend Him. I will simply allow Him to speak from the Scriptures.
In the 13th chapter of Luke’s gospel Jesus responds to the murder of one groups of people and the accidental death of another. Both of these tragedies, Jesus says, are meant to lead those who observe them into repentance. “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
The problem with Epicurus’ second question is that it’s typical conclusion is not logical. That God is able-but not willing-to prevent suffering does not make Him malevolent. It is conceivable, indeed it is perceivable, that one must allow evil at times that greater good may result.
Amputation is a fitting example. You can lose your leg or lose your life. Neither choice is good. Both mean pain and suffering. One, however, is better. In His wisdom, God allows evil so that we will be called to repentance and faith.
But faith in what? This leads to my final point. How does God deal with suffering? By explaining it away? By blaming us? No. God answers suffering-He puts an end to suffering-by entering into it Himself.
God became a man. He put on human flesh and frailty. He suffered loss and grief, pain and loneliness, torture and death. Whether human beings have free will or not is debatable. But God certainly does. And He chose to die in the most humiliating and painful way ever devised by human cunning and malice. He chose to do that, He says, for you and your salvation.
The Bible offers no easy answers to suffering, and we (pastors) should never pretend otherwise. Let us simply trust that the one who chose to suffer with us and for us has our best interests in mind as He guides and governs this vast universe.
Joshua W Theilen
Response To Burr’s Letter To The Editor