How Do I Know If It’s God or the Devil? A Mega-Post On Pain, Evil, and Suffering

Anonymous asked a question:

Would God purposely put His children in a situation where they would be hurt in any way (rape, kidnapped, something like that)? Or is this the work of the devil? I don’t think He would, but I don’t know.

My dear friend: There’s probably a huge list of questions I’d like to ask God the second I see Him (right after I collect my eyeballs back into my head).  So right upfront: I’m not sure why the devil is given such a long leash.  I’m going to ask God about that one, probably with my arms crossed and eyes rolled (and my head on fire).

The Question of Evil has not been adequately answered by the greatest philosophers of history, and I probably won’t be the one to crack it today, either.  It’s the kind of stuff that makes me doubt God everyday.  Even if I did have some solid theology on why certain atrocities happen, I still doubt it would satisfy the victim of abuse and slavery and oppression and terminal illness, no matter how much “logical sense” it makes to the brain.  Even if I concluded, “All the bad stuff is really from Satan,” then a suffering person could only reply, “So what?”

I can only offer a few thoughts that might help you on your journey here, because this tension of why bad things happen will never be resolved by any single answer.  Anything we say on pain will always be inadequate for the actual suffering person.  No such all-encompassing answer from any belief system really exists. I say this as a chaplain who works in the hospital, who has seen the very worst kinds of suffering, knowing that any amount of inspiration or explanation will never be enough.

I can only say that I believe the Christian perspective best accommodates the problems we see today.  I’m also aware that some of us will never meet eye-to-eye on this and we can “deconstructively reduce” anything I’m saying with snark and cynicism. That’s easy mode.  And that’s okay.  We’re free to disagree and wrestle and think for ourselves.

And please know: I would never, ever enumerate these reasons out loud the moment after a person has been seriously harmed.  I would never bring this to the bedside of any of my patients in their inexplicable grief. None of this theology really matters as much as you being there in the trenches with a heart of listening and love.

As always, please feel free to skip around.

Continue reading “How Do I Know If It’s God or the Devil? A Mega-Post On Pain, Evil, and Suffering”

Crazy Blessed: Thank You, Dear Friends.

Best Seller Hot Release Devotionals

On the Amazon Christian Kindle List for Devotionals.



Caleb

My friend Caleb sent this to me. Honored and humbled to be next to the great Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who I also quoted in my book.



LB soap writers block gift

My wonderful friend Lauren from the blog Yesdarlingido sent me this to celebrate the book release.



— J.S.

Get the e-book on Amazon here!

And now in paperback here!


If God Is Good, Then Why Did —?

Anonymous asked:

How do you respond when someone says “If God is good then why did my sister die, why does he let people suffer and why does he let all these bad things happen in the world?”

 

You know, I’ve read tons of books on God’s goodness — even one that was over 500 pages long — with tons of great arguments and stories and victories and apologetic defenses, and I always agree with all the points.  I’ve heard great sermons about God being in control and I can “amen” them all day long. 

But when the hard times roll in: all my ideas about the goodness of God fall flat.  When the trials come, my rock-solid theology evaporates.  When life suckerpunches me in the gut, I double over and don’t get up for a long time.

In the face of real pain, life gets too messy for pat answers, cold comfort, and even well-meaning doctrine.  Life in the moment tends to throw the Bible out the window.

If someone were to ask me, “If God is good then why did –?” … I would not even TRY to answer that one, because we’re not looking for some kind of logical rationale. 

Oh, there are good answers for that one, and I believe them all, and we could sit down over coffee in our comfortable sweatpants in an air-conditioned room and discuss those reasons in calm collected voices: but when you experience the cancer, the car accident, and the phone call that changes everything, you’re not hearing me about God’s mysterious ways.

Continue reading “If God Is Good, Then Why Did —?”

Question: What About Disease and Disasters?

themichaelwchen asked:
Hello🙂 Thank you for the follow! I have a question that I hope you may be able to shed a bit of light on. Actually, it’s a question that my friend asked me and I’ve been a bit torn on how to answer. Does God create disease and natural disasters? If so, why? If not, why doesn’t He stop them? I would appreciate your response greatly! -In Christ, Michael

Please first know that we tiny little human beings with our 3 lb. brains and stupid idol-craving hearts couldn’t possibly answer the huge question of planetary problems.  The Bible (not surprisingly) doesn’t say much about it, except that disaster and disease will happen.  In other words, God doesn’t need to defend Himself since He’s God.

But I’ll try to provide some biblical and logical reasons here. Please note that to an unbeliever, these answers will sound stupid.  But the Bible told us that would happen, even when Jesus died, and believers will reason it out through His Spirit.  So I’m not here to convince anyone, but rather humbly see things from God’s point of view.

Continue reading “Question: What About Disease and Disasters?”

Quote: Chisel


“Does God want us to suffer? What if the answer to that question is ‘yes’? You see, I don’t think that God particularly wants us to be happy. I think He wants us to love and be loved. He wants us to grow up. You see, we are like children who think that our toys bring us all the happiness there is, and that our nursery is the whole wide world. But something has to drive us out into the world of others, and that thing is suffering. Put simply, pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world. We are like blocks of stone from which the Sculptor carves a form. The blows of His chisel which hurt us so much are what make us perfect.”

— C.S. Lewis