Friday, January 4, 2013

The Side Effects of Suffering-The Search for Understanding by Martin Wiles

Series: The Side Effects of Suffering

After shooting his mother in the head four times while she lay asleep, Adam Lanza dressed himself in black, armed himself with a military-style assault rifle loaded with ammunition designed to inflict maximum damage, and shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Moments later, 20 children and six adults lay dead. Shortly thereafter, Lanza ended his life as well.

One week later, on December 21, 2012, chiming bells reverberated through this and many other cities nationwide to commemorate the 26 victims of Lanza. Some rang 28 times to honor the total number of deaths in the massacre.

The psalmist asked; Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?  I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain (Psalm 73:13-14 NLT).

In response to the why of this senseless tragedy, Rev. Lou Hays, of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mount Lebanon, PA, said, “It’s the toughest question we have as people of faith.” Others recognize suffering as one result of free will. Bishop David Zubik of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh remarked, “God only wants what’s good. But it’s the personal freedom, how people use it is how that evil really comes into the world.”

While suffering is ultimately outside the realm of God’s will, it becomes beneficial when we turn to him for understanding, for liberation, and for the strength to persevere. Assigning blame only intensifies our anger, fuels unforgiveness, impedes the healing process, and results in endless speculations-the answers to which God doesn’t always provide. Trusting God in the absence of full understanding increases our faith in his promise to somehow produce good out of the most evil situations and often brings out the “better angels” of our natures. Let suffering drive you closer to God instead of turn you against him.  

Prayer: Assist us, O God of peace, in trusting You through quiet confidence that You are in control and will one day eliminate all evil and suffering from our world. Enable our present afflictions to draw us in childlike faith to You.