Suffering

suffering barbed wire crown of thorns

Another quote from Francis Spufford’s book, Unapologetic.

How do Christians deal with suffering? There are many theories, and arguments about how a Holy God can allow it. After speaking them out and detailing their deficiencies, Spufford cuts past the intellectual theories and comes at it via the practical lens of experience.

It is quite hard to quote Spufford in small chunks, but this is worth quoting, so I’ve written it all out.

How do we resolve the contradiction between cruel world and loving God? The short answer is that we don’t. We don’t even try to, mostly. Most Christian believers don’t spend their time and their emotional energy stuck at this point of contradiction. For most of us, worrying about it turns out to have been a phase in the early history of our belief. The questions of suffering process to be one of these questions which is replaced by other questions, rather than being answered. We move on from it, without abolishing the mystery, or seeing clear conceptual ground under out feet… We take the cruelties of the world as a given, as the known and familiar data of experience, and instead of anguishing about why the world is as it is, we look for comfort in coping with it as it is. We don’t ask for a creator who can explain Himself. We ask for a friend in time of grief, a true judge in time of despair. If your child is dying, there is no reason that can ease your sorrow. Even if, impossibly, some true and sufficient explanation could be given to you, it wouldn’t help, any more than the inadequate and defective explanations help you, whether they are picture book simple or inscrutably contorted. The only comfort that can do anything – and probably the most it can do is to help you to endure, or if you cannot endure to fail and fold without wholly hating yourself – is the comfort of feeling yourself loved. Given the cruel world, its’ the love song we need, to help us bear what we must; and , if we can, to go on loving. (p104-5)

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We say; all is not well with the world, but at least God is here in it, with us. We don’t have an argument that solves the problem of the cruel world, but we have a story. (p107)

 

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