December 9, 2010

Evil & Suffering II: Snapshots of Suffering & Pictures of Pain

Since much of my thesis in some cases came across as a clinical examination of the logistics of evil and suffering’s existence in a world created by God the reader may lose sight of the reality of evil and suffering. To temper and humanize the tone of this paper I will lead it off with personal interludes.

Interlude #1: An elderly man nears the end of his life and is stricken with cancer and through ailing attrition, over a period of months and years he deteriorates until he is a shadow of his former self. He suffers from nausea after everyone of his chemotherapy treatments. The doctors insist that his chances of survival are better than not getting treatments. After a 6 month remission the cancer relapses and within a month, this elderly man dies a painful death. Why did God allow this man to suffer through chemo only to die a painful death anyway? Where was God when this man suffered?

Interlude #2: A 30 year old man, previously in perfect health is traveling down an interstate highway in his Jeep on his way home to his family. A delivery truck carrying steel "I"-beams blows a tire and crosses over the median strip colliding with this man’s car causing a pile-up. He survives the accident but is paralyzed from the waist down. Incapable of doing things to his satisfaction compared to his former self, he goes into depression. This affects not only him but also his wife who is also traumatized by the drastic and irreparable change in their lives. Unable to recover psychologically from this accident this man eventually takes his life in a fit of desperation. The woman is left as a widow at 28 years old to raise two young boys who have lost their father. Where is God’s compassion?

Interlude #3: A woman, mother of four and once held in high esteem for her mental acuity and quick wit slowly succumbs to Alzheimer's disease gradually losing the ability to manage her own life. Over time she slowly begins to forget who the people are in her life, her sisters, brothers and friends are first. As the disease progresses she begins to forget the names of her children and husband and towards the end she forgets who they are completely. People that once were in this woman’s inner circle are now complete strangers that live in her house. They wash her and change her clothes for her because she has become incontinent and soiled herself. Why are these strange people in her house? Who are they? This woman has become a prisoner in her own mind. Where is God?

Interlude #4: A child is playing ball in a neighbor’s driveway. The mother of the child has gone into the house to check dinner that she is cooking for her husband. She is only in the house for a minute. The ball that the child is playing with rolls out into the street, quickly followed behind by the child chasing it. It is rush hour and the road is a main route between Pottstown and Phoenixville. The child is hit by a car doing 55 miles an hour and is killed instantly. The body of the child is barely recognizable as human due to the impact. Where is God in this situation?

These are some of the more traumatic scenarios that could confront people in life and are the type of events that cause people to seriously reconsider or abandon their faith. The sad fact is that three of these have happened to people or families that I know. There are other scenarios that I did not even include here but the list could go on. These are horrible images and tragic events but they happen. They probably happen more frequently than most of us are aware of. We as Christians (or any worldview for that matter) need to have a reasonable answer to these types of tragedies or there will be little hope for those who are left behind to suffer the loss of the loved one. It is the people still alive and left behind that continue to suffer, the dead feel no pain. Sometimes, even with an accurate and consistent worldview these tragedies can put people in situations where they cannot recover mentally. When approaching evil and suffering (theodicy) we need to be as compassionate and as accurate as possible in our explanation to even come close to justifying why people can suffer as mentioned above. Christianity and Jesus are messages of hope, even in situations like this. Even then…sometimes answers are not enough but we must offer hope to people who have none. Needless to say we must fully understand that this is God's creation and nothing happens in it without His knowledge or allowance of it. He is sovereign and omnipotent...and clearly values why evil and suffering?


Anonymous said...

3 of your 4 scenarios fitted folks in my life too. as you say, they are happy now, their loved ones have to go on without them, & relive the pain sometimes. i also know of SO many healings...many "yes" answers from God, & even narrow escapes! in one in stance i saw a baby crawling on the road. my own toddler in the back, & the top down so he could have crawled out, i pulled over, like a puppet of the Lord, & ran & picked up the child! a white car pulled to a stop inches from us both! i took him to his nearby house & they seemed to not even believe me when i told them what happened. in that case God saved a life & prevented suffering, yet got no credit in general! a week later my sis got a bee in her hair & i ran away in fright! much for MY courage without God taking over!

Andy Pierson said...

Yes, it is always ALWAYS great to hear the stories of God's grace working in people's lives. Those serendipitous moments that come that are sometimes unexpected. But then there are those times...not often but sometimes we trust in the Lord and they come...but we sorta expected them because our faith told us to. Your story is awesome and very uplifting. Thank you! Andy :P

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