“For the preacher to be relevant to the staggering problems of history is to risk being irrelevant to the staggering problems of the ones who sit there listening out of their own histories. To deal with the problems to which there is a possible solution can be a way of avoiding the problems to which humanly speaking there is no solution. When Jesus was brought to the place where his friend Lazarus lay dead, for instance, he did not offer any solution. He only wept. Then the other things he said and did. But first he simply let his tears be his word.”
— Frederick Buechner
There is NO connecting-the-dots on every instance of pain. You can’t tell everyone, “God has a plan for your life.” You can’t always say, “Everything happens for a reason.”
A blind theology on suffering only works for the unquestioning. It can work until you have to comfort a young boy with cancer, a mother who has lost her son, a suicidal high schooler, an entire nation oppressed by genocide, a family torn by a school shooting or drunk driver, a pregnant victim of rape. At this point: it is atrocious to say, “Pain forces you to grow” or “It takes a painful situation to change your ways” or “God is teaching you to trust.”
I think we probably say those things because most of us have had it way too easy. And actually: they’re not biblical or from the heart of God.
What if there really is no spiritual lesson from your pain?
What if “God’s amazing plan” only makes sense to the privileged upper-class?
What if you never see the reason for why you’re going through this horrible ache?
What if you’re that starving, kidnapped, beat-up kid in a scorched third world country?
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