Suffering

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Suffering

Postby Zombie » Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:18 am

I would like answers to this question, though I'm a bit uppity about the topic, so I'm going to let you all respond and then let it sit for a bit before I reply. I don't want to bite at you all, but I am really struggling with this question:

If causing suffering to someone is a sign of hatred, then why is it permissible for God to cause us to suffer when we are right with him (that is, we are saved), not living in sin, and continually seeking to draw closer to him?
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Re: Suffering

Postby little_tigress » Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:23 pm

I'm in a hurry, so I won't post anything really indepth here. But I want to say that causing suffering isn't necessarily a sign of hatred.

This past year has been perhaps the most difficult one in my life, and it all zeros in on one person who is causing the hurt. However, its not out of hatred. Its because he is sick and in sin and in a lot of pain himself, so it flows from him to those who care about him. our relationship is very complicated, but I don't believe he hates me and I know he's not intentionally trying to cause any pain to anyone. But its what happens in a broken world. People get hurt and hurt others, even without intending to.

From a personal perspective. God has used this and other hurtful moments in my life to break me in ways I needed to be broken to see my real need for Him and draw me closer to Him. One might be saved, but that doesn't mean that we're immune to the effects of a sinful world which will cause us pain. And it doesn't mean that that person understands what it means to be fully relient upon Him or to trust in Him even in those moments when we want to scream, "You're doing it all wrong. You need to be acting in a different way!" There's always a temptation on my end to "tell" God what He needs to do, as if I actually know better. And when the storm has passed (and even during) I have to look back on those moments with shame. He always knows better, even if I cannot understand it in that particular moment.

Does God cause the suffering in this world? I'm not so sure about that. I think sin is the basic cause behind all suffering. We live in a fallen and broken world, and that touches every facet of life. I think God allows and even uses it for His purposes. But I'm not so sure He can be said to be the cause behind it.
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Re: Suffering

Postby Wesley » Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:27 pm

The answer would rely on an understanding of causation and association. If God is the primary cause of evil, then we have a problem and a lot of the Bible crumbles. If God has merely allowed evil to exist as a result of man's volitional choice, then he does not cause evil. Of course there's the philosophic tension of "If you see evil and have the power to stop it, but do not, are you complicit to the evil?"

The idea is that evil exists as a result of free-will choices made by both Satan, his following angels, and then mankind through Adam's choice. God's withdrawal of himself from the creation was to show what things would be like without him; it was a warning that his total removal would be unutterably miserable and also a punishment for evil in general. Now we have continued that evil with our own personal choices, and our choices ricochet into other people who may not have deserved that specific evil in their life. Then there's just "evil" in general, and the affects of the curse of sin that include things like disease, accidents, etc. that "just happen."

God does not appear to arbitrarily afflict people with things Oprah style: "And you get a aneurysm! And you get arrhythmia! And you! And you!" but rather that's simply the overarching effect of the curse of sin in general that we all live under. We may have more or less of the consequences of specific sin (Say, accidents as a result of careless behavior), and it does appear that God can and does strike people with punishments in specific instances (King Herod, perhaps?).

In general? God doesn't present himself as the primary cause of suffering, but is merely associated with it as a result of being the original creator and original pronouncer of the curse against man's choice to sin.

*I disclaim all improper uses of the words affect and effect.

**I also posted blind so have no idea what anyone else might have said. But if they contradict me, they're wrong. :P
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Re: Suffering

Postby Wesley » Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:41 pm

(Or as every math teacher in statistics classes will pound into their pupils: "Correlation does not imply causation." No, I'm not scarred for life by that phrase. :cry: )
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Re: Suffering

Postby Wesley » Wed Nov 06, 2013 4:53 pm

Also of note, is Genesis 45:5-8:

5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.

7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.


Wait, wait... so God was the one who threw Joseph down the well and sold him into slavery and multiple humiliating situations, including prison, that lasted well over a decade? Why didn't he just not allow a seven year famine in the first place so that Joseph wouldn't have to endure that? Or arrange some other form of getting Joseph in a position of power to help the situation?

It's an interesting perspective to think on. It doesn't imply that God enjoys the evil done to people, but allows it as part of the consequence of living in a sin cursed world, even to the point of his own children suffering for things that are no direct fault of their own. At some point I've simply had to say "That's just the way it is" because apparently now that sin has entered and all of creation groans, God uses the natural suffering that must exist as a result of his partial removal from life to sanctify his chosen ones.
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