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Living faith

Created date

April 23rd, 2013

I received an email from a reader asking, Where was this all-caring God when 20 children were massacred [at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut last December]? IF EVER HE SHOULD HAVE ACTED IT WAS THEN! There are so many other examples of this in history. NO ONE SEEMS TO HAVE AN ANSWER! Another reader, out of work for a year and recovering from chemotherapy, writes in her despair that she cannot hear God s voice. What to look for is beyond me at this time, she sighs.

The role of suffering

Nothing tests our faith like suffering, and world religions hardly dodge the issue. The history of Israel is a saga of suffering and restoration. The Passion of Christ is the cornerstone of Christianity. Buddha s Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path are roadmaps to reaching the end suffering at Nirvana. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq wrote, When Allah loves his servant, he drowns him in the sea of suffering. The Greek philosopher Epicurus was perhaps the first to formulate the problem: Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil? Great minds have tackled the issue. Job and the Apostle Paul suffered to the brink of death and recorded their interpretations in scripture. Iconic philosophers from Augustine to Hume have postulated solutions. Modern classics from all sides of the issue offer explanations Bertrand Russell sWhy I Am Not a Christian;Man s Search for Meaning, the story of the triumph of the human spirit by Auschwitz survivor Viktor Frankl;When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Rabbi Harold Kushner s consolation to grieving congregants; andA Grief Observedby theologian C.S. Lewis, who felt so uncomfortable being angry at God that he published the story of his wife s death under a pen name. How we respond to suffering can set the trajectory for the rest of our lives. For many, it is a stumbling block to faith. For some, it sows seeds of doubt and bitterness. For others, suffering is the pathway to deeper intimacy with God and understanding of life. Does no one have an answer? We ll explore some possibilities next month. Meantime, please send your thoughts and experiences to me at 703 Maiden Choice Lane, Catonsville, MD 21228, or bill@ericksontribune.com.

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