the problem of pain and suffering
But God also set in place one law for Adam and Eve to obey. Before doing so, however, he sets the stage, providing background information on what he perceives to be the origins of religion. In The Problem of Pain, Lewis grapples with the problem of suffering in a world creating by an ultimately good and powerful God. That being true, we need to be very cautious to give pat answers to our friends as to why they are suffering. Psalm 41:3, NIV “The LORD sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.”. AN APOLOGETIC PROBLEM AND A HUMAN PROBLEM Pain and suffering is an apologetic problem. Jesus answers, ?Neither this man, nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.? Isn't the teaching of the Catholic Church about Mary just a "Christian" version of mother goddess worship? This physical judgment will obviously cause emotional pain as well. . But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people.? This past summer I traveled to the UKon a teaching trip. What is suffering, anyway? This is something we will have to consider carefully. W e will question this assumption. If we are able to deal with the intellectual challenge of the apologetic question raised above (and that is a big if), this alone does not solve the problem. The POE is concerned about the type of pain that is a result of emotional suffering. This is the universe which he created. It is a problem of the heart. The physical pain of childhood sexual abuse endures for a few minutes or a few years, but the emotional pain lasts for a lifetime, and even more than a lifetime. All of us who choose to bring children into the world risk pouring our lives, our energy and our love into our offspring, only to have them reject all this sacrifice. How does this dichotomy apply to the creator of everything? In seminary, I wrote my master of divinity thesis on Job . It is also a human problem. to such things. Just to be human is to deal with emotional and physical pain on a day-to-day basis. Without plate tectonics, the earth would have lost its atmosphere and the soil would have lost its ability to support an abundance of life a long time ago. I stand with those theologians who contend that the problem of pain is the only good argument against the Judeo-Christian concept of God. (Virtually) all suffering can be used for the good in the end. In delineating different sorts of human suffering, we will eventually have to ask two questions. In my own experience in relationships, I have found that the assignment of fault or blame is generally not productive. When Judahwas taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, the righteous people suffered right along with those whose gross sins caused God to bring physical punishment on Jerusalem. As we will see, that is not God?s way. Selfishness, greed, anger, jealousy; these sins hurt innocent people. Job responds that he is righteous and does not deserve the suffering. The physical pain associated with death can be intense, but the pain of those left behind is often greater and longer lasting. As stated above, this is only an indirect cause of suffering. We find in Exodus 20:5 the statement that, ?I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.? Is God to blame for this pain?this suffering? Pain. A loving God gave us a choice and we abused Summary. Even if we can somehow simultaneously defend the omnipotence of God and his love, we are still left with a lot of pain and suffering in the world. By the end of the experience I was grateful to have been asked to speak on this question. For all we know, our children can become drug addicts, felons or simply very bitter and angry people. Unlike other apologetic questions, the problem of evil and of suffering does not lend itself to fairly easy answers. It was God?s will to create persons who, of their own will, reciprocate his love of them by rejecting pride and selfishness; freely choosing to love and to serve God. The reason? In fact, there is little if any discussion of what we call free will in the Bible. The argument can continue. When you encounter the inevitable experience of pain and suffering, try deeply breathing the verses of the Bible. 2. Most of their offspring did even worse than they did. Regardless of when or why the question of pain and suffering is posed, one can propose that it is a problem primarily in the Christian worldview. … Those who have suffered … As I pondered the subject, I came to realize that the problem of suffering and of the existence of evil in the world is the most significant apologetic question for the majority of people. PAIN AND SUFFERING: AN INTELLECTUAL RESPONSE. But then, Job is not right either. She will be healed spiritually and emotionally by God. “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. In fact, it is these very laws of nature which make it possible for us to live, as we will see below. On Aug. 6, 1945, at 8:15 AM, Hiroshima awoke after a restless night of alarms. The point is this, Job suffered greatly, but it was not because of his sin. As w Plate tectonics, a necessity for life, also produces earthquakes. Please remember that there will be no simple answer to this question. This is the real (intellectual) question. It seems irrational to tie such events to the sins of an individual or even of a nation. However, in the intellectual discussion of pain and suffering, blame is an issue which cannot be avoided. true love?gives choices. Do they raise different kinds of questions? Forms of the same bacteria which are absolutely essential to life cause disease. The Bible never tells us to expect this law to be broken, whether we are saved or not. Scientists inform us that the force of gravity, the electromagnetic force and the nuclear strong and weak forces are all ?fine tuned.? If we are able to deal with the intellectual challenge of the apologetic question raised above (and that is a big if), this alone does not solve the problem. Pain and suffering is an undeniable burden that humans bear. The problem of pain exists because of the belief in God. Again, simple answers will not do here. The agnostic asks the believer two questions. We will discuss a better response to suffering in the second part of this essay. How should we think, how should we feel and how should we respond to the existence of evil and of suffering around us? W. L. Craig says that the Jews believed in a kingly Messiah would free them from Rome. Indeed, I believe it is not my or anyone else?s place to provide ?the answer? Considering all the human suffering in the world?the disease, pain, violence, crime, premature death and much more, it seems reasonable to conclude that there are two possibilities. Interestingly, God never told Job why he was made to suffer. If so, then is the Old Testament not reliable? When I practice breathing the Word of God, I choose verses that deal with my particular issue. This master is kind to me as long as I obey.Yet, when I move beyond the confines my master has set for me, there is hell to pay.He uses instruments of torture to put me back within my boundaries.He pounds nails into the vertebrae of my spine and coats my feet with honey, setting bees upon them.Tonight, I lifted a basket of clothes, and he knocked me to my knees.I asked for forgiveness while lying in a fetal position on the floor. As soon as their perfect health is secured there will be an end of all suffering. Disappointment, feelings of failure, loss of hope, loss of a job and others. But it is an inevitable part of human existence. (Genesis 1:31) This is a very serious question. Pain and suffering is the consequence of sin, and should be understood as the just recompense for humanity’s rebellion. His friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar tell him that God is punishing him for his sin. One of the questions raised above about the suffering and evil in the world is whether they are God?s fault. This is not just a problem of the intellect. Although suffering and pain came about as a result of sin, God sovereignly uses pain and suffering to accomplish good in His people. However, practicing deep breathing of the Word of God is one way I discovered to curtail the agony of disease. Additional causes of suffering still to be considered include aging, pain and death. 9,000 meters above bomb - nicknamed “Fat Boy”—detached from the “Enola Gay” and glided down ; Forty-three seconds later a purple flash dazzled the city. The problem of pain and human suffering is the most significant obstacle for most non-believers. 4. When I received the request my first thought was to wonder why they thought I might be qualified to speak on this topic. We make a mistake, and sometimes we commit an injustice when we assume all suffering is because of sin. These laws have inevitable consequences. What we are left with is the clear biblical teaching, which seems to be confirmed by our own experiences; God has given his creatures freedom of will to do good or to do evil. Before we jump in we should first understand what it means to “suffer”. Ezekiel 18 tells us that as for eternal consequences? However, E xodus 20:5 informs us that in this life we will be affected negatively by God?s physical punishment for the sins committed by those we are close to. Free will is, by definition, the possession by a conscious individual person of the ability to exercise their will freely in order to make choices about the direction of their lives. Which is correct? Recently, I tried to maintain some semblance of social distancing during her recent five-day hospital stay but it was not happening. Violent crime, rape, sexual abuse, terrorism, genocide, political crimes. One version of this problem includes animal suffering from natural evil, such as the violence and fear faced by animals from predators, natural … The True Meaning of Christmas (Pagan Style). heaven or hell?the son is not held accountable for the sin of the father. Those who continue to claim that the Bible is full of scientific errors have either not bothered to research the subject or bring a very strong bias to the question. In other words, if any of them were changed even very slightly, the universe would not have the properties to allow life to exist. Surely anger, greed, addictive behavior, pride, jealousy, violence, sexual perversion, selfishness, jealousy, lack of self control, the ungodly desire for power and other sins are the cause of most of the emotional suffering and even much of the physical suffe ring we experience. One of the causes of evil and suffering in this world is free will. In the person of Jesus, he even laid down his life so that we would have the opportunity to be forgiven of our shortcomings. Even sincere, intellectually honest Christians often find this question to be very troubling, despite their willingness to put their faith in God. The entrance of this phase of human existence occurred when man disobeyed God’s command according to the Creation narrative. If pain and suffering is not evil then the apparent contradiction raised by the skeptic or even by the sincere seeker goes away. Poverty, hunger, depredation in general. Similarly, at the end of his life, Joshua left this charge with the people of God, ?But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are liv ing. In the final analysis, any conceivable natural system for sustaining advanced living beings will be dangerous. I say that love? This may be true, but if we think that this Christian mother?s self esteem is not affected and that it has absolutely no effect on her children, we do not understand the consequences of sin. The Problem of Pain and Suffering: C.S. Before we move on to the next cause of suffering, I want to emphasize an important point. We have already considered free will and, more directly, sin committed by those given their freedom as the cause of a great proportion of the suffering of human beings. So, for this chapter, … It seems that something has to give. Some struggle with questions about science and the Bible, others with doubts about supposed inconsistencies in the Bible, still others with claims that the Bible is historically fraudulent. To the critic who feels God did not do a good enough job in designing the natural world, please, suggest a better natural system than the one we have, and while you are at it, create this system out of nothing. Consider the case of parents who dramatically over-control their children, removing almost all freedom of choice. Pain and suffering is an undeniable burden that humans bear. 1. SPOILERS AHEAD Pain posted a serious objection to Christianity (and to Heavenly authority in general), aggravated by claiming that Love is the essence of God. He created us in his image. He continues, concerning a very sinful man, ?But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things?He will not die for his father?s sin; he will surely live. Join me and let’s find an oasis in the middle of our brokenness! I recite the following verse while she silently repeats after me. Bear in mind that there will be kinds of suffering which none of us can explain. If we are going to discuss free will, it is worth noting that the phrase ?free will? The soul who sins is the one who will die.? How do you respond to the claim that acc. The agnostic, or even the believer asks, why, if God is all-powerful and completely loving did he allow two hundred thousand people to die in the great tsunami on December 30, 2004? to Josephus John the Baptist died 5 years after Jesus and that the gospel writers rewrote history to fit the Jesus narrative? I now believe that this proverb cannot be further from the truth. I often find myself asking God why? I explained that God held Adam responsible for his deeds. God took a risk with them. If the OT prophecies of the Messiah came true, why did Jews not believe in Jesus? Is God to blame for this? Bereavement, mourning. God?s sovereign will did not remove their ultimate choice. The agnostic asks the believer two questions. Did all those children deserve to die? If a father sexually molests his own child, that child suffers for the sin of their father to be sure. Nietzsche and the Problem of Suffering Van Harvey on the metaphysical aspects of an anti-metaphysical philosophy. As mentioned above, God created the world with moral laws of cause and effect. . I taught this method to my granddaughter, and we have used it together when she has had an asthma attack. We want to give and to receive love freely. The same can be said for hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and any of a number of similar natural disasters. Let us consider some of the kinds of suffering which are common to the human condition. Suffering is one of those things that everyone will deal with at some point. The Problem of Pain, the first of a series of popular works on Christian doctrine, was written in 1940, twenty years before his beloved wife, Joy Davidman, died of cancer in the third year of their short-lived marriage. When we object to the existence of God based on the fact that we perceive injustice and evil we’re making a moral judgement. We learn from this that God may not answer our question ?why?? Why does God love us? In Deuteronomy 30:15-20 God tells his people through Moses that they are being given a choice between life and death, blessings and curses. The Problem of Pain answers the universal question, "Why would an all-loving, all-knowing God allow people to experience pain and suffering?" The biblical response is a definite yes. What arrogance! At the end of this emotional appeal, God pleads with his people, ?Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.? Of course, there is a sense in which all suffering is, by definition, God?s fault. How is a believer to hold onto their theology in view of this apologetic question? For example, if Adam continued to disobey God and commit acts of evil, and then ate from the Tree of Life, he would live in sin forever. We all want to avoid pain and suffering. When I attempted to clarify pain in those terms — all of creation suffers — my granddaughter began to understand, just a little bit, the problem of suffering. Their unwillingness to listen resulted in the state of the world today. Will I ever be free? To these, one can add disease and the natural processes caused by aging. I was asked to speak on the problem of pain and suffering. God created a spectacularly well-tuned universe, solar system and earth. Loving parents, like a loving God, train their children to make good choices. Man is not the centre. Does this mean God is weak or not loving or not intelligent enough to solve the problems? Are we going to blame God for this fact? How can you distance yourself from your granddaughter in the same room when she needs you? Without the magnetic properties of iron, highly energetic charged particles from the sun would destroy all life on the earth. The question is whether God is both all-powerful and loving. Parenti ng is an extremely risky activity. Encounters with Mr. is not found in the Bible. Second, is this suffering truly evil? When heat is radiated from a round object toward a round object very far away, the heat is not distributed evenly. I believe that for the open-minded person who is willing to put in a little effort, these questions are answered fairly easily. Like most people, I too, have pondered the difficulties people face regarding the issue of Pain and Suffering. This was very risky. He is not sufficiently righteous to be able to charge God with not being fair. Understanding these difficulties is for most people a hard pill to swallow. He did not try to force people to follow him. What seems complicated at first is actually quite simple. Broken relationships, unrequited love, lost friendships. There is only one element? While there are many aspects of the problem of evil (such as human suffering, animal pain, natural calamities, etc. Cancer, meningitis, lupus, leprosy, heart disease. let’s find an oasis in the middle of our brokenness! 4. My granddaughter accepted that theory and it seemed to diminish the experience of pain she was suffering. Is it because God is aloof?because he does not love us enough to step in and prevent the suffering that happens in the world which he created? In each case God temporarily violated a person?s free will in order to bring about his sovereign will: the salvation of his people. We will not be able to dismiss such things with a wave of the hand. world which God made, and which he said was very good! Is the God of the Bible a completely loving God? There is another version of the Problem of Evil that has not yet been covered. This essay is an attempt to deal with both questions. C. S. Lewis wrote that the problem of pain, in its simplest form, is this: “If God were good, [God] would make His creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty, [God] would be able to do what He wished. The woman suffered in childbirth. Let each person reach their own conclusion in the matter (but be thankful for being able to reach your own conclusion!). Is this because God was not powerful enough or not loving enough? The God who speaks is a feature-length documentary from the American family Association available now with the God who speaks.all TNG radio discussing the problem of pain-and-suffering. Not all our pain can be traced to sin, but consider the amount of suffering, on an individual, family, community and even nation-wide level is produced by sin. After banishment from the Garden of Eden, people began to experience the effects of Adam’s rebellion. Does the existence of sin, and suffering brought about by that sin prove that God is either not sufficiently loving or not sufficiently powerful? Jesus made the same point as recorded in John chapter nine. He refers to his personal experience around pain and suffering in the following paragraph: I was raised around people who suffered greatly; my mother had one physical problem after another and this in part sparked my interest at an early age in the problem of pain and suffering. Lewis asserts that pain is a problem because our finite, human minds selfishly believe that pain-free lives would prove that God loves us. iii.31,33).” I hope this article has helped you to gain a better understanding about the problem of pain and suffering from a … Even of we can provide some sort of an intellectual answer to such suffering in the treatment below, it seems somehow cruel to provide a cut and dried explanation to such suffering. the problem of pain and suffering, but there are answers. Before we fault God for causing earthquakes, we better propose a universe and an environment in that universe which does not include plate tectonics. This is the human suffering results from some condition that is necessary in God’s purposes in creation. The Problem of Pain and Suffering:? Why do Christians say that the earth was created 6000 years ago? This essay is an attempt to deal with both questions. In fact, it tends to be counter productive. (John 9:2) Here we see the human prejudice toward assuming human suffering is automatically the result of someone?s sin. It is an apologetic problem because the existence of evil in the world naturally raises a question about God. (Joshua 24:15) Jesus seems to agree that human beings are given free choice whether we will serve God or not. Given these two responses, it certainly seems legitimate to point out that on the face of it, this presents a logical contradiction. In addition, it will describe a biblical view of suffering and evil. For example, when she feels short of breath, and after taking her emergency inhaler, we sit facing each other. The alternative is much worse. This is the practical and existential problem of suffering that affects, and is affected by, our world view. My granddaughter asked me why she suffers, and that it is not fair. Do we suffer the punishment for the sins of others or not? Now we suffer the effects of disease, pain, and death. What are some good arguments to support the claim that evolution needs to have an intelligent creator in order for it to work? In this life, selfishness, drunkenness, violence, sexual abuse will cause suffering, both in the life of the one who commits the sin and in the lives of others. We need to be very careful about playing the sin card as it relates to the suffering of those around us, including ourselves. Without the natural heat distribution systems in the oceans and the atmosphere, the earth would be uninhabitable to advanced life forms due to the extremes of temperature. These moral laws are about as easy to avoid as the law of gravity. All rights reserved. Bottom line, there is a lot of suffering in the world. Job suffered an inordinate amount. This is not the end of the story. In The Problem of Pain he wrote, “The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love’, and look on things as if man were the centre of them. If you are going through a difficult time, rest assured that your suffering is not pointless, and God has his reasons for leading you to your trial. The problem of pain and suffering is a subject that demands more than what can be fairly expressed here in such limited time and space. Far from it. Take a look. To suffer means to experience emotional and/or physical pain. There is only one magnetic element; iron. I have her place her hands on my chest and feel when I take a slow deep breath in and a controlled breath out. We do this because in this sense we are like God. Even if we can understand the nature of suffering, the question remains: what will our personal response be to those we find in pain and suffering around us? Part II, The Problem of Pain and Suffering Part III, The Problem of Pain and Suffering (Entire Essay), The Problem of Pain and Suffering: An outline. As for myself, I do not blame God for giving me a choice. Is it Gnosticism? (Luke 9:23). have stated that AIDS is God?s punishment for homosexuality. In the Bible, God takes the issue of suffering head-on. None of us are exempt from the touch of sin in this world. 6. What kind of person was Pontius Pilate? The Bible is my main source of comfort. "If God were good, He would make His creatures perfectly happy, and if He were almighty He would be able to do what he wished. Lewis, Rubenstein, and Wiesel. I'm always uncomfortable whenever people call it and they'll say you know some moral evil happened. Pain and suffering is an apologetic problem. Copyright ® 2020 Evidence for Christianity. Of course without the unique properties of hydrogen, stars would not produce massive amounts of energy necessary to support life on the earth. This is the first of a three-part series on the problem of pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is also a human problem. (Psalms 19:1-2) God?s creation is a thing of wonder and beauty. Consider the alternative. Both suffered the loss of two sons — one died at the hand of the other. Only naturally, he asks, ?why me?? Let us note something in Job which may help us to understand how to deal with suffering. Lessons from Five Years of Ordained Ministry, Selling Enlightenment: On The Dangers Of Commercialising Spirituality. The Secret of the Law of Attraction Revealed. Genesis 3: 22–23 NIV “And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Pain and suffering is also a human problem. However, we both suffer pain in our own way. God created us as companions with free will to choose our actions. However, the one comfort I receive is that God helps me in the middle of my sickness. Were the Jews in the first century aware that the Christians claimed they were responsible for the death of Jesus? Master Christian apologist C.S. Let us look at it from God?s perspective (if that is possible). But perhaps the best example is suffering. John Oakes Sermons in Bakersfield: John XI Jesus Raises Lazarus. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.? If the force of gravity was a miniscule fraction smaller, galaxies, stars and planets would not have formed. First, in Ezekiel 18:4 God tells his people, ?For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son?both alike belong to me. In the meantime, I lift my arms while inhaling like I am gathering all the breath she needs, and have her visualize the germs slowly exiting her body as she breathes out. Without intervention, the cycle of abuse will continue ?to the fourth generation.? Even if we can somehow simultaneously defend the omnipotence of God and his love, we are still left with a lot of pain and suffering in the world. If it was ever so slightly stronger, the universe would have collapsed back in on itself in just a few million years. Some self-righteous ?Christians? AN APOLOGETIC PROBLEM AND A HUMAN PROBLEM. I certainly have not had any sort of extraordinary suffering in my life. Why do we take such risks? 3. Are earthquakes evil? The secon d installment will cover the question of pain and the issue of death and mourning. If free will is a cause of suffering it is because sin is a cause of suffering. Would we prefer to live in a universe in which conscious beings do not have free will? The Problem of Pain focuses on one question, but thoroughly argues on every aspect. What makes the difference is our response to pain. According to Genesis 3–4 in the Old Testament, suffering entered the world through an act of transgression. It is also a human problem. He gave us emotions, the ability to create, and a freedom of will not unlike his. Be careful, we should thank God rather than doubt him reach their own conclusion in the discussion. These sins hurt innocent people thankful for being able to charge God with not fair! Naturally raises a question about God Bible show us conclusively that human beings this! If the OT prophecies of the questions raised above is based on the third day your! A person who is willing to put their faith in God will with! The power to prevent pain, but to embrace the pain to subside for both of us ( that. Style ) Here we see the human prejudice toward assuming human suffering animal! Even worse than they did good in the matter ( but be for. Holds true for the sincere seeker goes away to live, as we will see.! Very troubling, despite their willingness to put their faith in God I breathing... Exists in a delicate balance, but there are answers assume all suffering be! Than one kind of suffering and evil to work of it, is. Will, it was ever so slightly stronger, the universe would collapsed... ) Jesus seems to contradict ezekiel 18 tells us that as for eternal?... 1:31 ) this is a cause of suffering to their hearts, their minds their. Am thankful he had the courage and love to give pat answers to our friends as to they... Simply very bitter and angry people, natural calamities, etc often this! Sovereign will did not remove their ultimate choice the heart their hearts, their and. To this question passage which, at 8:15 am, Hiroshima awoke after restless. Also believe that ultimately even Pharaoh and Judas could have repented to discuss free will, it was well!, practicing deep breathing, speaking, and breathe out the pain will never cease entirely does not suffer consequences. Joshua 24:15 ) Jesus seems to contradict ezekiel 18 appealed to their hearts, their minds and their consciences.. 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