PART I: INTRODUCTION
“Life is pain, anyone who says otherwise is selling something.” Westley in The Princess Bride wasn’t just making a quotable moment there—but actually getting into a deep philosophical truth on which most of us agree. “Life is pain.” Or “Life is hard.” Or “Life is suffering.” We’ve heard them before, and though we may say nay to a particular something or other, we pretty much all agree on the general concept of suffering. And that concept causes this problem for anyone who believes in a deity: how does God allow it?? And we want an answer, from a Christian God especially. How can a Christian God allow pain, or even cause it? Natural disasters are wrong, and genocides are evil, why does an all-loving God let them happen?
My goal then is twofold. The first is to show how a Christian God and suffering are inseparable, peas in a pod really. From here on out, I’m going to use a pretty simple definition for suffering, “Experiencing bad things.” I think its pretty clear what that definition entails, because it’s quite broad, so even if it doesn’t define suffering from your particular perspective, yours is certainly included. And, let’s face it, when we ask a sophisticated question of, “Why does God allow insufferable actions in our world?” we’re really asking simply, “Why does God let bad happen?” Again, the journey in front of us is demonstrating how “bad” and “Christian God” is a feasible combination. To say that bad and God go together may seem odd, but it’s a necessary odd, for if they didn’t, we’d have to say either that bad (and the entire world we know) doesn’t exist, or that God doesn’t exist. And if it came down to that, I’d be doing more productive things than writing about this.
But it’s the fact that suffering and God are compatible that makes this process productive, if not urgently needed. And that leads into the second goal I have, which is offering a perspective of why this combination is not just possible, but actually quite likely. It’s one thing to say “The sky and blue could possibly work together,” and quite another to positively conclude, “The sky is blue.” I want to show, as much as possible, that the sky is indeed blue. Non-metaphorically (and much more awesomely), I want to show that the Christian God is Truth. With that in mind, I’ll take a look at a historical perspective of suffering, and offer what I believe to be very compelling examples of God’s love.
I will break up this discussion up into smaller parts, so that they will be more accessible and easy-to-read. Ideally, each section should build upon the other, but also offer enough insight (with the help of the Holy Spirit), to stand on its own. This is also a quest taken through philosophy, with Christian theology as its framework. This means that I’m writing from a Christian perspective, but in a way that should be entirely rational and acceptable to the most avid atheist. OK, explanations done, let us now begin our journey.