Sunday, March 11, 2007

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. The question this morning is “What does suffering do to you?” The answer in a simplified clique is that it can make us bitter or better. The apostle Paul in a letter to Christians in Rome sells the theory that suffering builds character. I certainly don’t disagree about suffering building character. It’s at the core of the reality that immigrants have an ongoing historical record of success. But I’m not going to tell the parents who are caring for a disabled child how much they should rejoice. I wonder how many in the room know anything about the suffering involved in systemic poverty or what it’s like to be in and out of mental health facilities.

Another issue with suffering is confusion about its source. Suffering is not part of God’s program. The separation between humankind and God that took place back in the Garden of Eden opened the door for plenty of suffering. God doesn’t need to instigate it even when he wants to get our attention or teach us something.


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