Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Blog # 111 Suffering
Blog # 111 Suffering Philosophers have always been interested in what has been labeled 'the problem of evil' in the world. I prefer to address the same phenomenon as they but not as the problem of evil but rather the mystery of evil. I do this because of the relationship I recognize between all that exists and God. Nothing exists without God willing it to exist and with God there are no problems. Evil is a mystery for us because of our limited capacity to know and understand more completely than we do the infinite Creator, God. The existence of what we might view as evil is a mystery for us. When related to God it need not be a problem. Throughout history and all around us today there is great suffering in the world. Kings and peasants, Saints and sinners, men and women, have all experienced suffering of one kind or another, physical psychological emotional spiritual. The presumption is that each of us at one time or another in the course of our lives is going to have to address the experience of suffering. If we do not know how to give it meaning and value it is likely to be wasted in our case. It could be for us an enemy rather than a friend, a cause for diminishment rather than for growth. What can we begin to say of it? First of all it seems essential that we do not try to see meaning and value in suffering apart from God. Its complete meaning and full value is not there. Apart from God suffering is a problem rather than a mystery A second essential point is this: even related to God suffering in this life remains somewhat of a mystery for us. To be otherwise, for us to understand it fully, would require that we be God. Take the example of a blind person. You may tell her she is wearing a red dress but she cannot really know what you are telling her. She has no capacity for experiencing color. Yet she is wearing a red dress. There is color, but not for her. Your telling her she looks very pretty in a red dress and her mother's favorite color is red can be useful information for her however. For example the next time she goes to buy a dress and remembers what you have told her and trusts your love for her she is confident and happy to tell the salesperson in the store she wants to buy a red dress. This analogy finds application in our Christian insight into the mystery of suffering. All of us at one time or another will experience suffering or by analogy be wearing a 'red dress'. God does not claim it is pretty but that it is a singular gift that has great value for us if we have faith in God and trust Him. Sufferng offers an invitation and opportunity to experience a special degree of faith trust humility courage patience hope joy and love, all virtues that enhance our character and make us more worthy of God's love and the love of those around us. The letter to the Hebrews is powerful in this regard.(Heb 11: 32-12:1-13). Chapter 12: 2 exhorts us to "keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, Who inspires and perfects our faith. For the sake of the joy which lay before Him He endured the cross, heedless of its shame." Suffering remains a mysterious phenomenon, but not completely so. We will take that up in blog # 112.