Suffering is by far one of the greatest challenges made to the Christian faith.
Why would a loving God allow so much suffering in the world?"
I have been reading Lee Strobel's The Case For Faith for a long time now. It's not one of those books you pick up and read, page after page, chapter after chapter, "The end." No, this one requires a stillness before God, a time of deep reflection on small chunks of very meaty food for thought. And tonight, in light of what has happened in my extended family, I was prompted to revisit parts of the book which I have already read, specifically the parts on suffering.
My cousin is a wife and mother of three who lives in Florida. Growing up, she and her family always lived within just a few streets of our home. And with the exception of my Mom's brother and his wife, this cousin and her family were the only extended family living nearby.
My cousin's health has been a struggle for her for years, the past two years being extremely challenging to the point of deciding on hospice care recently. She is young at only age 40. And she is beautiful. She is a wife. And she is a wonderful mother. Her children are amazing young people. The oldest just completed her first year in college and the middle child just graduated highschool.
And her baby,...her baby was just fourteen.
He very unexpectedly passed away two days ago.
At fourteen (I can't seem to wrap my mind around that).
And now so many people who loved him and his family are left wondering why.
In Strobel's book, he cites Peter Kreeft (author, Making Sense Out of Suffering) giving the example of a bear caught in a trap and a hunter who compassionately desires to free him. The hunter tries to win the bear's confidence but cannot, so he has to tranquilize him in order to do so. The bear receives this as an attack, not realizing that the additional pain was meant to save him, that it was in fact an act of compassion. The hunter even has to push the bear further into the trap to release the spring mechanism, causing him even further pain. If the bear is conscious at this point, he believes the hunter desires to make him suffer, which is the wrong conclusion.
When human beings are exposed to great suffering, we often have no greater ability to understand God than the bear had to understand the motivation of the hunter, states Kreeft. Pondering this, I conclude that believers must unpretentiously believe. And while I have perhaps made the simplest conclusion, it also requires perhaps the greatest resolve in times of great trial.
Strobel also credits British pastor John R.W. Scott with these words;
"I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross...in the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?...He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in light of His."
As my heart breaks for my cousin and her family tonight, as I feel deeply concerned for each one of them and what their already tired hearts and minds can handle, I am purposing to believe for them. And I am asking every brother and sister in Christ that I know, to stand in the gap for them in prayer and to join me in the belief that our God is good and sovereign, that He deeply cares about the enormous suffering which my cousin and her family are enduring now, that He loves them and has entered into their pain with them, that He reigns victorious over the grave.
Join me in prayer, won't you?
The Faulkner and Watson families need us to believe with them and for them.
Live wise in Him!