I am no expert on suffering. I have suffered far less than the majority of the world. However, it seems to be a topic being brought to the forefront of my life.
It started Thursday as we (my husband and I) were getting to know some friends from church. As they asked us about ourselves, my experience with epilepsy came up. I have had epilepsy since I was eight. It began with what are called absence seizures. When I was seventeen I had my first tonic clonic seizure, or what most people call grand mal seizures. They have never gotten better and I have been on numerous medications since being diagnosed. Suffering
The next day I encountered the topic of suffering again in a different way. My husband took me out on a date to see “Freud’s Last Session”, a play showing a hypothetical conversation between C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud. As an atheist, Freud argued suffering as one of the reasons God does not exist, and if he does that we should not worship him. Lewis, a recent convert in this play, did not come up with any profound revelations. Suffering
Saturday night I was contacted by a friend who was upset about a current life situation. My comforting words that Jesus is constant and other things are passing were not of any help. Although she was hurting, she asked the bigger questions of “why?”. Why is there a little girl in Asia somewhere being forced into a life of prostitution? Why are there people starving to death? Where is God in this? Suffering
This morning my husband, daughter, and I went to church. Our congregation has been going through the book of Exodus. The book chronicles the story of the Jews being held as slaves to the Egyptians. God calls a man named Moses to speak with the pharaoh, to tell him to “let His people go.” Moses approaches pharaoh with his brother Aaron and delivers this message. Pharaoh refuses. What becomes of the people? Moses has already told them God is going to deliver them. Instead, their burden of slavery becomes greater. Pharaoh commands the people collect their own straw to make bricks. If they don’t produce the same amount of bricks they will beaten. Suffering
I’m sitting reflecting on these experiences. I’m trying to come up with easy analogies to suffering to say that there is a reason, and there is. I don’t believe anyone likes the answer; it is not an easy one to swallow.
God is ultimately in control and He will use even suffering to bring glory for himself. He is the only one that deserves glory.
In pain, we run to someone or something. The Israelites went to pharaoh to ask him to change his ways. Not surprisingly, he says no. Why, God? Now they are suffering more than ever before. Does this make sense? Not to our human logic.
The story ends with the whole nation of Egypt being tormented by plagues, including God killing the first born son of anyone who does not obey him. After this, the people are set free.
In hindsight it is easier to answer the questions of why. We can point to God’s glory from a distance. Today, the wrestling match that we have however personal or global, is do we trust God that He is a good Father and will use purposefully the wrongs or tragedies that happen. It is not easy to reconcile within ourselves events or conditions that God may allow or not allow.
There is a greater suffering at risk and we need a greater rescuer than we think.
God will use circumstance even tremendous, painful, national calamity to run to Him. To take comfort in no other but Him, and in that relationship, that Jesus died for, be saved for eternity, from eternal suffering.