Relating to Pain
For some time now, there have been many responses to the concept of what is known as the “Problem of Evil.” Sometimes this is also called the “Problem of Pain” or the “Problem of Suffering.” It is an argument offered to challenge the idea that there exists a God who is all powerful and simultaneously all loving.
This seems to come up occasionally in my writing as I have already written previous posts on different aspects of this “Problem of Evil” and now here is yet another. The first one I wrote was called “If I Were God…” deals with the idea that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil and suffering.
I also wrote a post, simply called “The Problem of Evil” where I focused on the “Epicurean Paradox”. In this post, I relate the idea that we ourselves have to take some responsibility for the presence of evil in the world. Another post looks at how the presence of evil can actually bring glory to God. There have been other posts as well, but I think you get the idea. This isn’t a new topic, by any means. So, what’s the angle today? Why yet another post dealing with this problem? Well, it comes from a passage from Hebrews:
14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
What we see here is that Jesus has been on both sides of the fence. He has existed from eternity past, held all the attributes of divinity, created the entire universe ex nihilo (out of nothing) and also became human. He took on human form and went through the day-to-day struggles that we do. He was tempted. He was tested. He suffered loss, tragedy and even a painful, humiliating death as a criminal of the worst sort.
Through it all, He remained sinless. But, He knows what temptation feels like. He knows what it is to suffer physical, emotional and mental torment. He can relate to us in our own pains. That’s one of the things that makes Christ different from any other religious leader in history.
So, what does this have to do with the existence of pain and suffering? Well, if we can find comfort in Jesus, knowing that He can relate to us, how much different is that than finding comfort in another human being who has been through the same struggles we have? Whatever strife we are dealing with, whatever pain we are experiencing, there is likely someone else out there who knows exactly what we’re going through.
There is always someone else out there who knows what it’s like to have a limb amputated, to have a mentally handicapped child, to have an unfaithful spouse, to lose a loved one, to contract cancer, to file for bankruptcy, to be bullied in school, to fail in business, etc. Whatever you are going through, you are not alone. Someone else has been through it.
So, what if that is yet one more reason that God allows such terrible things to happen to people who don’t seem to deserve it? What if He allows that so that those people can be a beacon of hope for others going through the same thing? Better yet, what about the inspiration you and I might realize by seeing someone who has gone through something far worse than anything we have seen, yet they still have a positive and attractive manner and are full of joy and hope?
When people suffer, particularly if the suffering is severe, they often have difficulty holding on to hope. Despair set in and they may not feel as though it’s worth it to carry on. But, if they can sit down and listen to someone else who went through the exact same thing and who is living a fulfilled and joyful life, it can bring hope.
I’m sure someone, somewhere, will read this and think, “Well, that’s all nicey nice. But that doesn’t explain why there is suffering in the first place. I mean, if there weren’t suffering to begin with, there wouldn’t be a need for others to have suffered the same way in order to give people hope.” If you’re thinking that, you’d be exactly right. This isn’t about the origin of pain or suffering or evil in the world. This is merely one way that God can use it in the world we have today. This fallen world. This broken world. Broken because of Man’s disobedience. But, then, I’ve already written about all of that before.
What are some things that you have been through that have allowed you to help someone else get through the same struggle? What struggle do you not think you could have made it through but for someone coming along who knew what you were going through?