Suffering and Sympathy

Our hearts break for the families who lost loved ones by the senseless violence in today’s news.  We hurt with them and we pray for them.  And once again, it causes us to consider the “whys” of suffering.


The question of suffering is a hard one with which to come to grips.  The concept of loving compassionate God and One who allows terrible suffering does not make sense to our finite minds.  Over and over we ask, “why?”  The choice in such times is to increase our faith in God’s goodness or allow our doubts take us down the road to unbelief, cynicism and ultimately bitterness.  The road of doubt seems to be the intellectual choice.  But in acknowledging that doubt seems reasonable, what we are really saying is that “unless we understand something, it can’t be true”.  Choosing doubt leaves the deciding factor to be our own intellect –   our own limited, biased, and thoroughly human mind.  And so in the end, doubt is not logical for we can certainly accept how minute is our own understanding.  I find the older I become and the more knowledge I gain, the more I realize how little it is that I actually know.  The world is big and I am small. 


Personal suffering does however enlarge ones capacity to sympathize and feel deep anguish for others whose suffering is acute.  Loving care and concern in times of trouble is like cool salve on a burn.  It brings a measure of relief, although the wound will take time to heal.  The choice of doubt and bitterness blocks ones ability to feel the pain of others for it is an emotional prison of one’s own making.  I would rather not know all the answers and have many questions, yet be able to hurt and care for others in their suffering than to be of no good to the world because I had allowed the questions of suffering to turn me into a cynical person.


Every terrible thing that happens either in the world or to us personally presents us with a choice.  Do I allow myself to experience the pain and walk through it with the help of my Savior who knew suffering as no other, or do I allow my faith to be crushed by doubt and despair?  It seems every time a new tragedy happens we have to make that choice anew. Some things I will never understand this side of heaven.  But what I do understand is that Jesus suffered on the cross for the sins of the world for deeply flawed messed up people like me.  I do not understand suffering in the world, nor do I understand the depths of the kind of love that Christ showed you and me in taking the punishment for our sins.  And so in the end, I choose faith in God’s goodness.  It still hurts, but it puts my heart in a better place -a  softer place – and in an attitude that is still willing to learn.     


       

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