Tag Archives: suffering

I Can’t Explain Suffering. But I Can Respond To It.

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When I wake up in the morning, one of the first things I do is check my Twitter feed. I really just use Twitter for the news, and lately it’s been worse than usual.

Any death is tragic. But when it’s a child, it’s even more so. When children are the victims, the reality of evil becomes even more shocking.

Apart from the usual expressions of anger, I never know what to say. Words just feel so inadequate.

I once had a conversation with a refugee from a war-torn country.

He recounted how family members were injured by exploding land mines. I said I was sorry.

He described how hard it was to go about the business of daily living while trying to ignore the sounds of bombs falling. I could only shake my head.

He spoke about a car bomb going off so close to where he was that the impact sent him flying through the air. I had no words.

He talked about what he found once he regained consciousness, I knew there was nothing I could say to even get past his sorrow. So I stayed quiet, letting him talk.

As I listened to him, I realized that unless I had stood there with him that day, and all those other days he stared death in the face, I had no right to use platitudes to try to comfort him. I am an outsider, an observer of grief so deep the future is an insult. I do not know his pain, or the pain of others who have truly suffered.

 

Some people say we Christians have the answers. I struggle with that.

Do we really know why those school children in Pakistan had to die?

Do we know why those gunmen weren’t stopped in time, and why mothers and fathers are now mourning their unspeakable loss?

I don’t think so. We have broad explanations, but none that would satisfy a parent whose child was gunned down.  And honestly, I think we do more harm when we insist on what we know in the face of suffering we don’t understand.

I know God is sovereign, and I know He is in control, but I don’t have the words to even try to explain that.

How do I explain faith?

How do I explain something I don’t even fully understand myself?

So I don’t.

I cling to Him, and I pray for the hurting, and when I talk to Him, I ask Him to please comfort the grieving. Because He knows what it’s like. He watched His Son get beaten up and then nailed on a cross to die. And He is the only one who can touch a heart so battered  and bruised and give it hope and meaning.

 

I will not go around making judgments for people. What do I know?

Like I said, I don’t have the answers to why all these things are happening. I just know we live in a broken world.

People are starving to death, whole ethnic groups are being killed off, children are being orphaned as their parents succumb to diseases that are preventable or treatable elsewhere, women and children are being trafficked into the sex trade and the value of life is lower that the price tag on the latest gadget in the market.

Arguing over the whys and wherefores is inane. What’s broken will remain broken. What we need to figure out is how to respond to that brokenness.

And I will not go around making judgments on people. Victims are victims, whether they look like me or not. Broad strokes are no respecter of individuals.

But I will speak up against evil. Extremists are called extremists for a reason. Man’s  depravity wreaks so much havoc, especially on the defenseless.

And I will do what I can do. Andy Stanley has said, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.” As a mother who is blessed to raise my children in a safer part of the world, I will respond to injustice by raising sons who will join in the fight against it. It is the greatest, and yet most terrifying thing, I can do.