A: So This is Why We Must Know Pain

In my last post, I asked the question of how a good God can exist in the midst of Pain:
CLICK HERE TO READ.

Today I want to offer an answer to the Problem of Pain, or at the very least, an explanation. For a question of such magnitude and circumference, there is no easy or perfect answer. Great philosophers and theologians have attempted this question for centuries, mangling through its uncertainty and the depth to which it effects the entirety of humanity. And at the heart of this big question is the desire to show that there may be reasons beyond what we see– that the existence of a good God in the midst of Pain is more than plausible, it is both logical and sensible.


So, here is how I understand the brokenness of a world that is held together by a loving and powerful Father.

I begin with a creator God. He is the one that has always been, existing before all things, enjoying perfect harmony with His two counterparts, son and spirit. In a desire to create, He spoke the very life we know into being and declared all that He had made good. Yet, He wanted His beloved creation to experience love in its fullest, truest form. For love cannot move within restrictions or be held together by form. That is not love.

Thus, He gave His creatures the liberty of having free-will. Giving us the choice to choose to live in fellowship with Him or in denial of Him. Free-will is to possess options, to be unbound by compulsion or force.

Though, we must note: Just because we have been given options does not mean that every option laid before us will lead us to good and beneficial things.

In the garden, a place of unspeakable wonder and unfathomable beauty, there were Adam and Eve and all of creation in their midst. He built the entire garden for them to live and told of them of the one tree they must not eat. Here is the rebellion: One tree amidst thousands of others and they choose to eat its fruit. The fruit is eaten and the consequences of wrong choice enter the world. All creation becomes tainted by this wrong doing, sin has now fractured the once perfect world.

From the beginning, Genesis’ origin, we were designed for our creator God. He built us with purpose, permitting us free-will but knowing that there is always and forever, only one choice that will ever grant us a truly fulfilled and joy-filled life. For we were made to be one with our creator. He carved the flesh and bones that make us who we are; He stamped humanity with qualities of His divinity, sealing us as His workmanship. We have been declared His. So that for as long we do not choose Him, we choose to live as less than who we were created to be and live below our fullest potential.

It is Him who encompasses all goodness, all beauty and all truth. In every instance we do not choose God, we choose the absence of these divine virtues. It is essential to understand that evil is not a “thing” or an entity of its own, rather, it is the direct result of wrong choice. Evil is good gone bad, perfection that is fractured. Without goodness the concept of evil would not be. So we see that even evil relies on the existence of God.

The murderer chooses death over life. The anorexic teenager chooses self exploitation over love of self. The bully choose animosity over kindness. The wife sleeping with another man chooses lust over commitment. The abusive father chooses violence over integrity. The murderer chooses revenge over forgiveness.

Everyday we make our choices. Just as Adam and Eve made their choice back in the Garden.

It seems that we free-willed creatures have the knack of choosing the very thing that causes us the most pain. Time and time again we make up our mind to deny God and choose sin, not only hurting ourselves, but hurting those around us. Just as it was so in the Genesis garden, so it is with us: Our choices have consequences that affect more than just ourselves.

But, when no one sees and no one is effected, what harm is done? you ask. But sin, it blinds, casting darkness on our lives. Through curtains of blindness it can be hard to see, but the thing is, sin always hurts a relationship. Whether it is between you and someone else, you and God, or you and yourself, a relationship is always broken when sin enters.

So in all of this we see that evil is not created by God but it is the result of human wrong choice. Therefore, the Creator is not to be blamed as the origin and perpetrator of evil.
But still you may wonder: If the origin of evil is free will and God is the origin of free will, then isn’t God the origin of evil? To this I say, only as much as parents are the origin of their children’s misdeeds by being their origin. Father of the world gave His children the power to have free choice. Would we prefer that He had made us robots instead of human beings?


The reality is that arguments or objections or not, this is the world we live in. Deceit soaked, pain heavy and suffering immanent, so how do we live in this?

We embrace hope. With everything we are, we cling to the promises of not only a good God, but an intimate and loving God.

And we live in daily remembrance that it is He who suffered first. Drenched in His own blood, scorned violently, bones broken, and left to die with the weight of all sin, what He did on that cross was no joke. Red stained wood and an empty grave changed absolutely everything, shook the foundations of the earth, and brought us a glorious hope we might never have known.

We live in the hope that He is a rebel with a cause. He is the ultimate lover of souls and freer of captives; the One who has come to make all thing new. Though right now the soles of our feet grate against the hard ground of this earth, we may rejoice in the joy to come:

A voice thunders from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighbourhood, making His home with men and women! They’re His people, He’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” He who sits on the Throne declares, “Behold, I am making everything new!” (Rev. 21:3-5 Msg.)

So when pain comes to your home and suffering touches the people most dear to you, where shall you turn? The freedom is ours to yell and object and come into His presence kicking and screaming, and if this is where you are, I promise that He will meet you right there. In the midst of the thrashing, the wild resistance of a child in pain, He will hold you tight as sobs rack your body and the pain threatens to overtake.

I must tell you that I believe in an Artist God who is painting a picture too glorious for us to see. Though in our eyes it seems like a sloppy mess of chaotic colours, shapes and texture, He moves each brush stroke with purpose. He is creating something we know not of, because He is the creator and we are the created. Though we are not just the created, but we are His created. So in our pain, let us hold on to the promise that there is more than meets the eye, that just because we do not see, it does not mean the reason is not there. For He paints with intention. And oh, He is painting something incomprehensibly beautiful.

jesuscrossstormfor blog

*This is only a brief overview on the philosophical and emotional Problem of Evil.  I did not write this with the intent to write a comprehensive explanation, but to share the answer I have come to understand and truth that has brought peace to me.*

Here are some links to more resources on this Problem of Pain:
    – The Problem of Evil by Peter Kreeft
    – The Problem of Evil by William Lane Craig
 
  – Problem of Pain book by C.S. Lewis

love, mikayla

 

Q: Why must we know Pain?

Pain entered our house tonight. In between the mugs of coffee and plates of tuxedo cake, a wall came down and sobs overtook a body. The dinner table held the crumbs of deserts and the tears of a saint.

Oh what to do as the young niece sitting diagonal to my hurting Aunt? My own mother, sister of my Aunt, rushes to her side and holds her tight, stroking the small of her back. My Uncle reaches from the other side and gently cradles her head. I blink back tears, rendered silent by this real-life grief displayed before me. Pain is real and as I watch it mop itself across our dinner table, I think about how frequently, even routinely, it visits this commonplace of our lives. Pulling up a chair at the dinning table, uninvited and unwelcome, the entire table wondering when it will pick up its dishes and leave. No invitation sent, in fact, every wall possible we put up to keep Pain out. A thousand protective mechanisms we employ to avoid its visitation. Don’t get too close, then you can’t get hurt. But, it seems no matter what we do, Pain, it cannot be avoided.

Cancer. The 6-letter word that invokes fear in the strongest of individuals: destroying families, separating lovers, fashioning widows and crushing dreams. Today we are told that nearly anything can be the cause of cancer. Excessive time on the cell phone causes brain cancer. Storing the cell-phone in the bra promotes breast cancer. Drinking coffee increases the risk of cancer. Yet, even those bearing a lifestyle of vegetables and daily yoga find themselves disturbed with the diagnosis of this 6-letter word.

My Aunt is a pillar of strength and one of the fiercest lovers of the Lord I know. And this is the path she walks. Chemotherapy, nausea and a hospital bed, a fight to be fought because as she says: Oh there is so much to live for. As I saw her tears and heard her utter fearful words, it was then I saw that she too is human, subject to this visitation of Pain. Her son asks why; why you mom? And I ask too. Why is it that evil often finds its way to the most beautiful and undeserving of humans?

Innocent children from the villages of Uganda abducted to become child soldiers and sold into the sex trade. Black men and women treated as property solely due to colour of skin, subjected to centuries of enslavement. Young girls sexually abused by their own fathers, irrevocably damaged from the inside out. Parents murdered in their bed by their own flesh and blood; the bullet released by a resentful son. Women kidnapped by men they once trusted and trafficked into a world where they are forced to sell their bodies.

Teenage boys that conspire to deal tampered drugs and commit outrageous mass murders. 100 ft high Tsunamis that kill 230,000 people in fourteen different countries, demolishing cities and reeking havoc. People born into severe poverty, a daily struggle to survive and avoid the many diseases that threaten their existence. Mothers that watch their unborn baby die within their stomachs, the hope of new life fading before her eyes.

We live in a world that drips in evil: We live it. We feel it. Sometimes, sadly, we even embody it.

A friend writes to me: I would never respect your father if he knowingly allowed you to be raped or abused. I would never worship a god that allowed you to be raped and murdered. His words gnaw on my heart and suddenly, I am desperate for a new understanding, desperate for answers.

This problem of Pain.
This problem of Evil.

My Philosophy class spent an entire unit addressing this: Unit 6, the Problem of Evil.
We asked the question, the age old challenge to the existence of God: How can an all-loving, all-powerful and all-good God exist when there is so much evil, pain and suffering in our world???

This is known as the achilles’ heel of Christianity, the hardest question for believers of God to provide answers for. And even as one who builds her life upon this foundation of faith, I too find myself asking this question.

It is more than a philosophical question we can tack logical answers to.
It is more than a heated debate topic.
It is more than an attempt to hurt Christianity.
It is a reality that cannot be brushed aside with classic, nice-sounding Christian phrases. God is in control. Jesus loves you.

Questioning the presence of evil and the reality of suffering is one of the most authentic, human inquiries we can make.

I have seen people reject their faith in the midst of tragedy, rage violently at the God they once revered and praised. More people have abandoned Christianity on the account of this objection than any other reason. How often we see that the reason for unbelief is not an inadequate hypothesis, but an unfaithful lover.

Thus, this problem of evil is of the greatest of relevance. And I believe that it is our duty, as Christ-lovers, to give reason for the existence of God in the midst the suffering, pain and hurt.

It bellows loud and clear, soft and quiet. In between tears and lonely nights and the darkest of places. I paint the question red with the blood of innocent children and black with the cries of injustice. It is a question that begs an answer and I am desperate to find one.

love, mikayla

*answer to come in next post*