Guided Analysis: Suffering
Describe a time when you experienced a significant period of suffering. How did you deal with that experience? How did you find comfort in the midst of suffering? I worked in retirement homes as a patient care assistant until about seven years ago. An unfortunate situation occurred when an elderly woman that I was attending to lost her balance and fell on me, injuring my back and shoulder. The pain lasted for some time. I took pain medication, shots, and had shoulder surgery. After a year and a half of recovering, I lost my job because I was no longer able to lift patients. I was able to deal with the experience through prayer and asking God, my husband and others close to me the types of work that I could do. Since I had been working with preschool children and taken a few classes at community college, the Lord led me to this new career path. In the midst of my suffering, I was dejected about my nursing dreams. God answered my prayers while I was being treated and rehabilitating from my injuries. He opened doors, and I was able to get a job with the local school district working with children.
Briefly summarize the problem of evil and suffering. Cite and reference the lecture and/or Chapter 9 in the textbook. People may ask the question, “”If God is all good and all-powerful, how could he allow suffering in the world?”” (Lecture 6, 2017). Suffering exists because humans wished to experience a world that was opposite from what God intended, a world in which evil was possible as well as good (Sharpe, Ch.9, 2015). In his love, he allowed humans to have free will (Sharpe, Ch.9, 2015). Humanity could choose to serve God or to love and serve ourselves (Lecture 6, 2017). Job provides an outstanding example of someone who faced evil and held strong to his faith. He loved God, lived a righteous life and took care of the poor. Then, one day all Job’s animals were stolen and his servants killed. He lost all his children in a tragic disaster and became sick with a horrible disease. Job had done nothing wrong, had not made God angry, and was not being judged (Sharpe, Ch.9, 2015). Job’s wife even told him to curse God and die. However, he did not curse God. His friends blamed Job, and others questioned God (Sharpe, Ch.9, 2015). Suffering comes to all people, and it is alright to ask questions of God. However, humans should not blame God for evil or question his goodness because he gave life. Through the trials that Job experienced, believers need to realize that things will work together for good for those who love God (Sharpe, Ch.9, 2015).
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Briefly summarize the Christian worldview’s response to the problem of evil and suffering. Cite and reference the lecture and/or Chapter 9 in the textbook. Theodicy is the defense of God’s goodness and power despite the presence of evil and suffering in the world (Sharpe, Ch.9, 2015). According to Irenaeus, an early church father, suffering helps transform Christians into persons who are ready to live in God’s presence (Sharpe, Ch.9, 2015). He explains that after Jesus’ resurrection and reunion with the Father, it is now possible for humans to become God’s image-bearers with a character of purity, goodness and love. In the brokenness, humility and confession of Christians, God gives himself to them through the filling of the Holy Spirit. Without suffering, Christians would not be ready to become people who love, trust, do good to others, and forgive their enemies; while suffering may help Christians develop patience, hope, faith, love, and courage (Sharpe, Ch.9, 2015).
Imagine that a close friend has just suffered through a great personal loss (death of a loved one, natural disaster, disease, job loss, divorce, or a broken relationship) and your friend asks you why God would let such a terrible thing happen. How would you respond to your friend? When approached in such matters, the person would likely believe in God. This is an opportunity to listen and share God’s care and love as Jesus displayed through suffering and dying for all man’s sins. Since Adam and Eve ate fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, evil was introduced and allowed to remain on earth to cause pain and suffering to humans. God loved man, but because of his holiness, he could not have a relationship with man tarnished by sin. This is where he sent his Son Jesus to suffer and die on the cross and be resurrected to conquer sin, pain and suffering. Prior to responding to my friend, I would pray to God for wisdom in helping him or her get through this tough time. I would convey that everybody will go through suffering and pain at times in this life, whether they are good or bad, Christian or not. I would gently say that God is with him or her in this time of pain and suffering. If my friend is open to what I am sharing, I would talk about God working with us to develop patience, hope, faith, love and courage. But if he or she is not open to what I am sharing, I would offer prayer, support and a listening ear.
According to Chapter 7 in the textbook, how might the problem of evil and suffering lead one to the conclusion that moral absolutes exist? The existence of moral absolutes help in the understanding what is ethical and the difference between right and wrong. Ethics relates to what is right and wrong, while morality relates to a person’s choices, behavior, and character. Ethics and morality are interrelated. The Christian worldview looks at ethics in absolute and universal moral principles that God has revealed (Jibben, Ch.7, 2015). The Christian worldview sees the problem of evil and suffering coming from the fall of humankind by choosing to disobey God from the time when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is possible to know right from wrong because humans were created for specific purposes by an intelligent divine being. In popular culture, people can consider moral standards to be subjective and personal without any basis except for personal preference. In this case, what is right or wrong can change from person to person or from culture to culture (Jibben, Ch. 7, 2015).