how can i believe in god and pain?

May 18, 2008

I’m writing an e-mail to folks in my community … to give them an update on some of the workers we partner with in China and to help us think together about some of the world calamities in recent weeks.  I really liked a couple of paragraphs I stumbled across, written by Michael Ramsden (who is a riot, btw, not to mention brilliant speaker).  Maybe you’ll find his thoughts instructive & challenging as well:

The heart of the questions … people most commonly ask [is]: can I trust God even when faced with great evil?  Is He morally trustworthy?  Can I trust Him even if I don’t understand what is happening?

These are profound questions, and whole books could be written about them.  But I will offer one more thought.  Maybe the reason we question God’s moral character when bad things happen is that we live our lives largely independent from Him.  In other words, we struggle to trust Him in times of trouble because we do not really trust Him when things are going well.  Maybe we struggle with suffering so much in the West because we are so comfortable most of the time that we feel we don’t need God … As I said earlier, I have never been asked questions about God and suffering when I am travelling in countries riddled with the realities of it.  In fact, when I visit churches in parts of the world where they are faced daily with horrific affliction, I normally leave inspired.  They trust God in everything, even when things are going well.  When times are hard, they cling to God because they have already learned to trust Him.  They have learned that God does not change, even when our circumstances have.

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