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God’s Word and the Universal Problem of Suffering

He nodded. Yes, Jesus.

Jesus filled his thoughts. That’s all he wanted to say. That’s all his wife needed to hear.

Seeking answers to the question of evil and suffering should turn us toward Jesus in a fresh way.

In my research and writing, and later in my journey with Nanci through fighting cancer and grieving her eventual death, my thoughts too kept coming back to Jesus. What better place?

Often God has wiped away my own tears as I’ve contemplated—and lived—potentially faith-jarring situations. I’ve been left, not in despair, but with great hope that defies description and a peace that transcends understanding (see Philippians 4:7).

This journey has stretched my trust in God and His purposes, and I have emerged better prepared to face suffering and help others because of it. I feel I have much more to offer believers in Christ who may be questioning their faith, as well as unbelievers who consider the problem of evil and suffering their single greatest obstacle to faith (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

We Each Bring Our Own Burdens on the Journey.

If abuse, rape, desertion, paralysis, debilitating disease, or the loss of a loved one has devastated you, then this issue isn’t theoretical, philosophical, or theological. It’s deeply personal. Logical arguments won’t satisfy you; in fact, they might offend you. You need help with the emotional problem of evil, not merely the logical problem of evil.

And remember: you are a whole person, and the path to your heart travels through your mind. Truth matters. To touch us at the heart level—and to keep touching us over days, months, years, and decades—truth must work its way into our minds.

By all means, speak with a friend and perhaps a pastor or counselor. But in the process don’t seek comfort by ignoring truth. When you try to soothe your feelings without bothering to think deeply about ideas, you are asking to be manipulated. Quick-fix feelings won’t sustain you over the long haul. On the other hand, deeply rooted beliefs—specifically a worldview grounded in Scripture—will allow you to persevere and hold on to a faith built on the solid rock of God’s truth.

In writing His magnificent story of redemption, God has revealed truths about Himself, us, the world, goodness, evil, suffering, and Heaven and Hell. Those truths God reveals to us teem with life. The blood of man and God flows through them. God speaks with passion, not indifference; He utters fascinating words, not dull ones. To come to grips with the problem of evil and suffering, you must do more than hear heart-wrenching stories about suffering people. You must hear God’s truth to help you interpret those stories.

Maybe you’re holding on to years of bitterness and depression. You blame someone for your suffering—and that someone may be God. You will not find relief unless you gain perspective.

Or perhaps you fear that any attempt to “gain perspective” will deny or minimize your suffering, or that of others. The Bible never minimizes suffering or glosses over it.