How do we ‘make sense’ of suffering?

Suffering is one thing we have in common with all humanity.  But can we make ‘sense’ of it?

We not only suffer and often have compassion on others who suffer,  but we also suffer from what Scott Cairns calls “the disturbing pieties that swirl about in the aftermath of suffering and loss, most of which strike me as being, at best, the unfortunate hybrids of good intentions and poor theology.” (The End of Suffering) 

The biblical book of Job helps to answer some poor theology. (Examples are in the book itself – in the speeches of Job’s friends! The Bible contains or rather records some bad theology!) Job is the antidote, e.g., to the ‘health and wealth’ Gospel and any other system that wants to contain and control God.

In Narnian words, the Lion (the King) “is not safe…but He’s GOOD!”  (Click here for the background and theology of C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia on this point.)                   

The only New Testament reference to Job focuses our attention on God’s goodness and purpose, and on Job’s endurance:

“Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”   

Note: My sermon, “JOB: How To Make Sense of Suffering” is posted on the Christ Church website.

QUESTION FOR DISCUSSION: What struggles with suffering do you wrestle with?  What helps you to ‘make sense’ of suffering?

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