Confident Faith - March 2016

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The Problem of Pain and Suffering

The theodicy (the problem of pain and suffering) is among the top "problems" raised against Christianity, yet when properly understood and seen from the "inside", actually is a strong case FOR Christianity. I cannot fully develop arguments to support this in such a small space, but I want to give you two quotes that point us in the right direction–pain and suffering leads us to Christ.

Malcolm Muggeridge wrote, "Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful, with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy-five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained....This, of course, is what the Cross signifies. And it is the Cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ."*

"It is a glorious phrase of the New Testament, that 'he led captivity captive.' [Eph 4:8 quoting Psalm 68:18] The very triumphs of His foes, it means, he used for their defeat. He compelled their dark achievements to sub-serve his end, not theirs. They nailed him to the tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to his feet. They gave him a cross, not guessing that he would make it a throne. They flung him outside the gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up all the gates of the universe, to let the King of Glory come in. They thought to root out his doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy. They thought they had defeated God with His back to the wall, pinned and helpless and defeated: they did not know that it was God Himself who had tracked them down. He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquered through it."* James Stewart

Living in the midst of pain and suffering, I can say that I do not like this answer any more than I liked Dr.Everist's shots as the answer to my childhood strep throat, but this is a beautiful answer to behold.

Some may be in the depths of pain and suffering right now, and "no volume of words can bring comfort. But it is also true that even if the impact is not immediate, at some moment, the truth takes hold."*

Harold Henderson

* As quoted in "Why Suffering: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn't Make Sense" pp 54-57, by Ravi Zacharias and Vincent Vitale

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