Thoughts on Suffering

From a sermon two years ago. This was a post from a listener (and one of my staff) from that day.

I am not fond of theories and theologies that discount the depths of human suffering for some exotic notion of “making us better people.” It can pass over the misery and sorrow too quickly. Better to see it, as perhaps the Ukrainian people are teaching us (as did Jesus), that sometimes suffering is the only alternative to yielding to wickedness and evil.

I prefer Romans 8 which pictures the entirety of God’s good creation yearning for wholeness and completion, even as it battles against all that resists it.

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:20-21). Only by affirming this are we entitled to hope that ” in all things God is working for good.”

This is significant as it describes where God “stands” in relation to us–is the suffering of Christ passivity and yielding to the anger of God against us? Or is it the resistance of God in Christ against the powers of evil that would destroy us all? For us or against us? Is this God’s own internal war with God’s own being and intentions being resolved by self-suffering for those who deserve it instead? Or is it a frontal attack against the very kingdom of violence, coercion and cruelty, unmasking its shame and ultimate impotence to bring about peace and reconciliation? Worth pondering.

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Gary Furr

Gary is a musician, writer and Christian minister living in Alabama.