Why Pain?

My friend Tim gave me permission to quote him from one of our email conversations about another friend of mine who experienced a distressing childhood: (the italics are my addition)

It is sad that bad things happen — and they do — and it raises questions of why God allows us to experience pain. But he does: there is no contract which says otherwise. The existence of evil and pain is the biggest theological barrier to most people's belief in God. In a way, it is a symptom of our natural narcissism: God's first job should be to keep us from harm and pain, emotional, physical, or otherwise. (Never mind that God himself chooses to suffer and weep.)

But, to quote the old song, "I beg your pardon: I never promised you a rose garden." And in a world full of free agents, having the ability to impact each other, some are allowed to run amok. God allows it. I've read so many atheists' stories, where, sometimes after years of believing in God, they suddenly wake up and realize there is pain in the universe, and suffering, and that bad things happen to relatively "good" people. (Well, duh.) And it destroys their faith, because they're not prepared to believe in a God who might allow such a thing. It blows my mind that people can go whole decades of their lives without noticing the universe is unjust. And when the clue sets in, *blam*, atheism.

Well, get a clue, friends: there is indeed pain in the universe. Besides natural occurences (to repeat myself) most of it comes about because we're allowed to make choices, and allowed to have an impact on each other. We can even murder each other. It's just that simple. God will straigthen out everything in the end — recompensing even the murdered for what went wrong — but he doesn't (always) intervene now because he's hoping the murderers, despite what they've already done — just as Christ hoped on the cross ("Father, forgive them!") — will come their senses, and that their souls may be spared from the judgement they rightfully deserve. He loves even the murderers. So the wheat and tares grow up together, indistinguishable for the moment. Every ounce of pain we've felt can be more than compensated for. Ask Jesus, who was tortured and murdered unjustly, but has been raised above all names which are named.


1 Comment

Filed under Difficult Questions

One response to “Why Pain?

  1. Tracey,

    I just read your May 19th post entitled “A Skirmish.” I was so excited to read a real testimonial of a Christian doing apologetics – it was great! Thank you!

    Right now, I’m writing an apologetics curriculum for high schooled students, and I was wondering if I could email you (or you email me) and talk a little more. Would that be ok with you? (rhetoricalresponse@gmail.com)

    Again, thank you for an inspiring example!

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