Friday, January 6, 2012
Six years ago when my husband went to five months of military training and on to Iraq, I began to contemplate suffering in a different way. In the past, I saw it as a logic response to stupid things we did or a natural part of life. The worst suffering I felt while he was in Iraq came from friends and family criticizing the way I raised my children and handled the tasks of everyday life without a husband. I did have people who stood by my side and helped in tremendous ways, but many didn’t. The ridicule they thrust at me like a dagger cut to my heart.
E-mail contact helped tremendously as I tried to keep the depression at bay. My husband knew what I was going through. He pointed out that Jesus’ friends also let Him down during His time of need. They all denied knowing Him and ran the other direction when He went to trial, was flogged, carried his cross, and died. Before Jerry mentioned this, I had never really grasped the suffering in the Bible by applying it to my own life. I knew the stories and understood the suffering as a story, but not as an example of all those Biblical heroes being human just like me. Knowing Jesus went through a very similar trial gave me strength.
The last couple of months, I have thought of ways to write about suffering. I feel a tug to understand better and maybe help others to see suffering in a different light. I went to the library and found a very interesting book, God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question – Why We Suffer by Bart D. Ehrman. I almost didn’t check it out. The author now claims to be an agnostic. Before doing the work for this book, he worked as a minister. Because he didn’t find any answers to suffering that he liked, he stopped worshiping God. I feared he might try to change the minds of Christians, but after reading the first few pages, I could tell that wasn’t his agenda. He truly did try to find his answers. What his conclusions ended with is that God caused suffering and he could no longer be a part of this faith any longer. I do find it ironic that he still is a professor of religious studies.
While I have read the book, emotions have bombarded me. Part of me weeps for this man. Through his words, I can see he is a caring man of intelligence. I have prayed for him. The search has left him bitter. However, he twists all of his thinking like a spoilt child. Since the world isn’t the way he thinks it needs to be, he stomps his foot and stops believing. This attitude drives me crazy making me very angry. I want to yell at him to grow up, get over himself, and deal with it. I feel very sorry for his limited insight.
His book tries to answer the question of why we suffer. I want to write about how we can turn to the Bible to find peace in our suffering and the suffering of others. I would like to show suffering through the eyes of Biblical heroes to help us get through our times of pain. Much of Bart’s writing didn’t apply to what I will eventually get written though I think my ideas of suffering have deepened. Plus, he did challenge my ideas. He asks a ton of questions. I thought I would share some of my thoughts about his work here on the blog starting next week by answering some of the questions. Until then I would love for you to tell me why YOU think we suffer.
Blessings to you all.