Some come to know God because of evil and suffering, they have nothing left to hope in. Some turn away from God because they can’t fathom the purposes of evil and suffering. Some use it to argue there is not a God and some are pushed closer to God because of it. Some don’t like to think about evil and suffering at all and some thats all they can think about. Some have never seen suffering, some choose to ignore it, and some cant help but look for it. Some have only ever seen suffering and some have seldom experienced it. Some reject it altogether and some embrace it and become the essence of it. If you are not at least one of the above, you know someone who is.
Evil and suffering have been present since the fall of mankind; it dominates and plagues our culture, even if it isn’t constantly in your face.
I’m sitting at a suburban Starbucks, drinking a 5 dollar latte. I’m using my Macbook Pro to type the words in my head and the emotions in my heart while wearing an old Nike baseball T that ended up costing 50 bucks, and sneakers that cost me 70. I rarely scoff at my own ability to write about suffering; you may be wondering, how can I even write about such a thing in those circumstances?
What you may not know or believe is that suffering is relative. On a grand scale, I have not even come close to suffering but looking at just my own life, suffering has not only hit home emotionally and relationally but has burdened me as I watch and hear of the pain of others.
If you have seen the new movie that recently came out in theaters: “God’s not Dead” then you may have clearer inkling to the kinds of pains in people lives and their thoughts/feelings towards God because of evil and suffering. I’m not going to give a synopsis of the positions, you can watch the trailer by clicking the link above or can see the movie for yourself but maybe your own life is enough to show some of what I’ve already said. Maybe you fully understand what I’ve just argued for, but even if you don’t, you know there something wrong with us. You know there is something wrong with this world, something you can’t explain. You know there are let downs and disappointments; there are things that we all wish would never happen to anyone. Even if you can’t think of anything other than death, death is enough to say there is pain present. There is pain in losing something you love, even if its not a person. Maybe death for you has been a lost toy as a child, a lost health, a lost home, community or idea, maybe its a lost relationship, or desire. Whatever the loss is for you, you know it’s real and it has hurt.
There is an answer for that, but before I give it. I’d like for you to contemplate what it is that you have experienced the death of. What have you lost? what have you mourned over?
I am speaking at an Undergraduate Theological Conference at the University of Northwestern-St.Paul next Thursday, April Tenth and would love for you to come and hear what my thoughts are on the solutions to evil, suffering and loss. If you cannot make it, I will post again after the conference with my answer and a link to my entire paper.