God and Suffering

In an earlier post, I made the statement: I’m so thankful to a loving Father who honors us by letting us suffer.

A thoughtful reader responded:
“There is no one that could prevent me from trying to rescue my children. NO ONE. I don’t know what this means – I’m so thankful to a loving Father who honors us by letting us suffer. This statement baffles me.”

My response to her was:
“Thank you for your thoughtful question. I hope you know that I, like you, will do anything in my power to prevent my children from suffering. I’ve also learned a great deal from this talk by Kevin J. Worthen:

[To quote C.S. Lewis,] “The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach trivial meaning to the word ‘love.” Too often we confuse God’s love with human kindness. We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of the day, ‘a good time was had by all.’”

But that is not God’s plan for us. He wants us to become like Him. He wants us to experience the fullness of joy He enjoys—eternal joy, not merely temporary contentedness. And He loves us enough that He will do whatever it takes for us to reach that goal, including allowing us to experience things that are difficult and soul-stretching. And He does it not because He doesn’t love us, but precisely because He does.

But even when we have to learn things from our extremities in order to fulfill God’s plan for us, His love will be there to sustain us… especially when we need His love the most. …So let us not sell God’s love short by confusing it with mere human kindness. His love is much deeper than that. (Kevin J. Worthen, “It Was as If a Blanket of Love Was Flowing Over Me”, May 2, 2013, BYU Women’s Conference)

What are your thoughts?

5 thoughts on “God and Suffering”

  1. I’ll chime in because it really saddened me to read that as well. I am so proud of Max & for some reason it really struck me to read that line. I actually wrote on my FB wall about it. Here is what I said, “I try hard not to make spiritual comments – we all have our own path to walk. But tonight I’m reading someone’s blog who’s son had a horrible accident & she writes, “I’m so thankful to a loving Father who honors us by letting us suffer.” And it hurts me to the heart. Why? Why attribute ANY of this to God? I am reminded of James 1:13, “When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone.” Such suffering is evil – there’s nothing Godlike in suffering. Of course there can be a lot of divinity & grace in how we handle suffering & it sure shows our character like the amazingness this woman’s son has & is showing. I’m sure God longs for the day, as much as we do, when he can STOP suffering for good. That’s why he promises that time after time after time in the Scriptures. Suffering isn’t a gift but the strength we are given in times of crisis sure is.”

    I believe some teach that suffering is part of God’s plan only because they can’t find any other explanation. But I see no logic in that. I’m happy to be able to understand a line of thought that allows me to give Satan ALL the blame (that & human’s freedom of choice) & leaves God only in the blessings that we experience. But I sure don’t fault you in you strength of faith!! Hang in there & let the healing continue!

  2. I certainly understand where you are coming from. No one ever wants to suffer, let alone watch their own child suffer, but its those moments we begin to understand what our Savior did for us when he Atoned for our sins. Its also in those moments we realize how close He really is, and grants us the peace that we desire, that only He can provide. In reading your blog, there is no doubt the Lord has been with you every step of the way. While we may feel alone during our suffering, He is as close to us as our knees are to the floor when we pray. You and your family have handled this with such grace and courage. I understand there were difficult moments that none of us could quite possibly understand, but you have inspired us in so many ways. Thank you so much for the courage to share this journey with the world. There were days I read your posts that gave me the courage to do what I needed. I can not possibly thank you enough. I have prayed, and will continue to pray for you and your family.

  3. Glory to God in all things! This means we should be thankful and give Him the glory during hard times and good. As Christians we should believe we are blessed no matter what we’re going through. You did not choose for your son to be hurt, the only choice you had was to either despise God for allowing your son to go through so much, or glorify Him in the blessings you found in the situation.

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