An attempted explanation at suffering, love, and reality
Break-ups, breakdowns, broken cars, unemployment, lung cancer and murdered sons.
Life sucks sometimes. Actually, life can be straight-up awful. A drunk driver runs off the road and takes your friend out. Your mom loses her job for no apparent reason. Your baby girl didn’t make it out of the womb. But where is God in this mess? Where is God when I’m hurting? Actually, why is God even allowing me to hurt?
In order to attempt to understand suffering, we need to begin with realizing we simply cannot understand every detail. God is too mysterious and incomprehensible for us to fully grasp. However, I will attempt to scratch the surface.
First, “God is love.” These three words are arguably the three most important words in Scripture. If God is love, then everything He does must be in the confines of love and sacrifice.
As scary as it sounds, love is directly related to freedom. Love would cease to be genuine if freedom didn’t exist. With that freedom, we can choose to love or be selfish. And selfishness usually looks like murder, lies, addiction and heartbreak––you get the point.
Senior elementary education major Kelli Vigil put it best, saying, “For me it all boils down to God giving us a choice . . . it comes down to the notion that if a loving God didn’t ‘allow’ suffering, would we even know what it is to love and be loved by him?”
Sophomore physical education major Jacob Prosser affirmed this by saying, “If [God didn’t allow suffering], everyone would just serve and love Him out of fear.”
All of the crap in this world is not God-ordained. Freedom is of God; evil isn’t.
But how do we deal with suffering while we live in this world? How can we function with pain? Where is God when I’m hurting?
God knows pain too.
God is not an abstract idea “up there” looking down. He is relational and involved. If God is involved with us, then why doesn’t He prevent pain and death and evil from happening? I don’t know if it’s possible to answer that. I assume that God is allowing humanity to see what doing our own thing results in. Where is God in this mess? He’s right here, right now.
His plan is scary and beautiful and mysterious. Don’t wrap your head too much around it.
Freshman music education major Renae Cross was asked, “Why does a loving God let us suffer?” She responded confidently, “It’s a test of faith . . . it’s more for us to see how we can use the faith he’s given us.”
May you know that God has your best interest in mind. Hurt and pain and suffering are temporary. If you are suffering right now, may you know that joy is on her way; she’s right around the corner.
Abner is a sophomore studying theology.