A question so often asked, and I’ve raised it in the past, is ‘Why is there so much suffering in the world?’
I try so often to have a good answer and yet seem to always feel that I fall short in finding the right words to say. I had someone suggest not too long ago that I was answering the wrong question because the right question should be - ‘why is there so much beauty in our world?’
Well, either question has a theological answer that matters, but as I keep coming back to it my words often fail to envelop what I really want to say. So I will borrow some lyrics from a song that I heard awhile ago sung by a lass named Laura Story called ‘Blessings.’
The song starts by saying “We pray for blessings, we pray for peace, comfort for family” then goes on to list a whole lot of other good things we all seem to desire. But then she asks an amazingly hard question: “Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops, What if your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless night are what it takes to know You’re near. What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?”
I doubt we think of blessings being the trials that we live through. It has been over a year since I used the verse Romans 8:29 telling us that “all things work together for good...”
But I confess that the knowing and the doing are sometimes way different from each other.
At the end of the day I want to be more like the Psalmist when at the end of the laments he always ended by saying how awesome God was despite the trials and afflictions that he had gone through. In the end theology matters since how we view our world shapes how we respond to our world. Theology, the study of God, leads to how we know God therefore to how we view our world. Every one of us has a lens through which we see our world, what we call our world view, but our worldviews are not the same and often they clash and sometimes it is more of a crash rather than merely a wee bump.
Our society is filled with different ideas of how to fix suffering in our world. Some suggest austerity, others suggest more spending. Some say get oil cheaper, others say get rid of oil. Some say let the immigrants flow in unrestrained, others say let no one in. And the list goes on and on of the extremes and all the space in the middle. I kind of keep coming back to God is in control.
Again I know I don’t have THE answer, and I suspect my perfect world is not everyone else’s. But in the end we may well realize; “What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy? What if...” all these... “are your mercies in disguise?” (Thanks Laura Story). Eventually we will see what God’s idea of a perfect world is.
In Christ regardless,
Rev. Jon Bergen
Brechin Baptist Fellowship