Some Thoughts on Pain and Suffering

What would Spectrum be without a good old fashioned blasphemous rant every once and a while?

Like old aunt Ethel that we all love to have over at Thanksgiving but we stand ready to put our hands over the children’s ears when she goes on a roll.

Thanks, Rick, for this fine essay. I am sending the link to it to my 94 students this semester who begin reading your equally fine book, Suffering and the Search for Meaning_ this week. As some earlier posts here demonstrate, it is exquisitely difficult to think clearly about how God, our ideas about God, and suffering may be related. I myself have found it useful to conclude that “the problem of suffering” is not an intellectual problem, which is to say that the problem cannot be “solved” by figuring out how to think differently about God and suffering. Rather the solution to the problem would be no more suffering (and, somehow, the redemption of past suffering). I take your best response to this problem to be that hope for just such a solution is possible.

Why? Job told his wife “Should we accept [receive] only good things [good days] from the hand of God and never anything bad [evil, adversity, trouble, tragedy, or problems—from the hand of God]? Job 2:10

An all-beneficent Being sends good and evil. Both good things and bad things. Blessings and favors. While others God sends adversity and tragedy, for no apparent reason. To some long life while others who trust and pray for deliverance, experience the silence of God.

In the parable of the talents, he give genius abilities to some and near poverty to others. To the Rich Man he blessed with super abundance while to Lazarus God gave him starvation, disease and poverty.

God delivered Israel while he deployed killing angels to slay first-born of every animal and human, age or sex were not considered. God can save and destroy, at the same time. The actions of his death angel are celebrated yearly by the Passover. The joy of deliverance coincides with the destruction of the entire male army of Egypt. God’s hand was involved in deliverance and safety for some and death and mourning for others. God does both actions with ease.

In Psalm 44 the author attributed all their misfortune to God himself, something in our Western Christianity finds it nearly impossible for us do.

But now you have tossed us aside in dishonor.
You no longer lead our armies to battle.
10 You make us retreat from our enemies
and allow those who hate us to plunder our land.
11 You have butchered us like sheep
and scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold your precious people for a pittance,
making nothing on the sale.
13 You let our neighbors mock us.
We are an object of scorn and derision to those around us.
14 You have made us the butt of their jokes;
they shake their heads at us in scorn.
15 We can’t escape the constant humiliation;
shame is written across our faces.
16 All we hear are the taunts of our mockers.
All we see are our vengeful enemies.
17 All this has happened though we have not forgotten you.
We have not violated your covenant.
Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
Get up! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you look the other way?
Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression?
25 We collapse in the dust,
lying face down in the dirt.

1 Like

Whilst I digest this very well written piece, I wondered at your comment.
Would you prefer censorship?