The Weekday Ramble is a daily dose of sports, music, culture, and more from Rambling On founder Erik Ritland. For more information check us out on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or at our website.
Friday June 19, 2015
A short reflection on the problem of suffering and the Christian response to it.
I have been asked hundreds of times why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I do not know the answer. I have to accept, by faith, that God is sovereign, and that He is a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. –Billy Graham
This quote, from the preeminent preacher of our time, is from a sermon following 9/11. It is easy to wonder where God is in the midst of tragedy (or why terrible tragedies are allowed to happen at all). Considering that even Billy Graham doesn’t completely understand it, don’t believe anybody who has a simple answer either way.
Graham mentions God’s sovereignty. There is a broader picture when it comes to any suffering, albeit one that is not helpful to consider in the immediate aftermath of tragedy. As limited human beings we can’t understand it, but there is more to tragedy than any person, or group of people, can know. It is important to be realistic about how much we can know when we consider the problem of evil. Humility is understanding our place in the world and our limitations. This is the point of the book of Job.
There is no definitive answer for the problem of evil, only perspectives. The Christian response is anchored in the virtue of hope. It is devastating when anyone dies, whether a family member who has lived a full life, an airplane filled with passengers at the mercy of a mentally unstable pilot, or a church filled with devout people who are thoughtlessly killed.
But if there is another life, which is what Christians hope for, then those people are not dead, but alive. As on Easter morning, death does not have the final say. In the end there will be justice. This is the great hope of Christianity.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.