The following post is written by Michael Powell , a Pastor of Michael Bell. It was first published at InternetMonk.com
A wise person once wrote the following lyrics in a song called Suffer: “All that you suffer is all that you are.” Now, while this statement may not be entirely true – as we are also defined by experiences of happiness, joy and peace – I’m sure we can all agree that going through some kind of suffering is an inevitability for all of us as humans, and that what we suffer does in fact shape us profoundly. Physically, we feel pain, as our body is designed to protect itself and provide us with signals of potential or actual danger. Through trial and error, we become aware of the limits of our existence. We learn that touching things that are hot or sharp can hurt us, so that we’ll hopefully be less apt to make the same mistake again in the future. At other times, our bodies feel pain to let us know that we’re sick or that something within us demands our attention – like a warning system to let us know something’s wrong or that we should consider modifying our routine behaviour. We also feel emotional pain, which is often related to social interaction. At times, we hurt because we are intentionally or inadvertently excluded or insulted by someone else’s actions or words. Other times, we suffer because we are temporarily or indefinitely separated from a person or people who are important to us. Whatever the case, our experience of physical and emotional pain is universal, and has a direct impact on our personal identities, how we view and relate to others, and how we process and deal with spiritual things. Ultimately, what we suffer personally and collectively influences our understanding of God.
C. S. Lewis, in his book “The Problem of Pain”, wrote this:
If God were good, He would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty He would be able to do what He wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both. This is the problem of pain, in its simplest form.