January 9, 2011

Evil & Suffering XXII: To Comfort Others & Witnessing

Potential Reasons For Existence of Evil & Suffering VII:

Anyone that has been through suffering knows what it is like. Anyone that has gone through a specific type of suffering knows what that specific pain and suffering is like. The type of suffering that includes things like the loss of a spouse, the loss of a child, the loss of an appendage or a heroin addict who lost everything but somehow managed to recover and clean up. If someone else ends up being subject to these types of suffering who do we suppose they would want to talk to? People that have never gone through the pain and suffering they have endured? No! They want someone that can relate to their pain. God knows this also (2 Corinthians 1:3-7) It is why many of us to some extent have a testimony of suffering. It is why we have compassion as believers. So that we can go out to comfort others as the Holy Spirit comforts us in our affliction, the same way Jesus comforted those around Him (John 14:16). When we do this not only do we bear witness to others but we show an example to the world what it is to be Christian.

It literally is a believer living out the Gospel in their actions. Sometimes actions speak louder than words and the world may take note of that. This is no greater witness to the truth than a man who talks the talk and walks the walk (Howard, 153). Having been through the same types of suffering and pain those who have already been through it will usually see the hand of God more readily and more easily. This person is then in a better position to explain to those suffering or being afflicted that what they are enduring is not easy but it is a suffering common to some people (or all in the case of death) and help show them possible purposes in it.

When we endure suffering or see others suffering there is an innate or natural inclination to turn to others for support or to give support. In suffering, especially when it is communal, there is a need to turn to God and to turn towards others in love and compassion. It shows us our need for God. We are forced to face our mortality and our humanity. In our dependence on other human beings in these situations we we see a glimpse of the Kingdom of God in its full glory and we also volitionally or inadvertently obey the two greatest commandments.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

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