Tag Archives: Suffering

Why Me? (And Why That’s the Wrong Question)

“We live between Eden and Heaven. Sometimes, it’s going to hurt.”
Jim Davis, author of Why Me? (And Why That’s the Wrong Question)

One of the things I enjoy most about blogging is all the reading that goes with the job—particularly when I find a new blogger who has something original and insightful to say. There are a lot of bloggers who are curators of other people’s material, and there are the big-blog guys everybody reads (many of them are a team rather than an individual behind the keyboard), but if you’re willing to look a little deeper you can find some really wonderful voices in the blogosphere.

Why Me?Jim Davis is one of those voices (others include Dick Woodward, David Work, Walter Bright, Jason Ladd, Sandra Dimas and Maureen Moser, and our own Clarke Morledge).

Jim is a constitutional attorney from Birmingham, Alabama, a Bible study teacher, and a writer—he’s not associated with the Garfield comic strip (penned by another Jim Davis). What I appreciate most about his writing is that he always puts it on a level playing field. Like Clarke, he can see more than one side to an issue, and he keeps his eye on the big picture when others tend to let their emotions slant their thinking.

Jim has a new book, Why Me? (And Why That’s the Wrong Question), just released by Leafwood Publishers and available on Amazon. Jim asked me to review the final draft for his publisher, and I was happy to oblige with this review:

If knowledge is knowing the answers to questions, wisdom is knowing which questions are important and why.  Jim Davis brings a refreshing perspective to the topic of pain and suffering in Why Me? (And Why That’s the Wrong Question).  This book is packed full of wisdom and reality, and the topic is treated honestly—with biblical integrity, and with respect.  We should be preparing ourselves for pain and suffering now because it is inevitable.  Instead of focusing on answers (that only God can give), Jim focuses on the questions.  Readers will appreciate Jim’s voice; he has a gift for applying the Bible to a hurting world in a way that is insightful, comforting, and helpful.  I wholeheartedly recommend this book, both as a group study and for personal discipleship.  In Jim’s words, “We live between Eden and Heaven. Sometimes, it’s going to hurt.”

I told Jim when he asked for the review that I am no expert on pain and suffering.  I’ve been blessed with an exceedingly pain-free life. Exceedingly. But what I didn’t tell him is that the title of his book is an echo from a sad chapter of my family’s otherwise benign history. It was decades ago, but I can still hear my mother’s voice, saying those words (more than once). It was an honest question for her, as it is for so many people, but it was not the right question. This is an honest, insightful, comforting, and helpful book.

Why Does God Allow Evil and Suffering?

When God gave us His Word, He was not in denial regarding the suffering of His people. Have you discovered the Bible is filled with Scriptures that answer the ‘why’ questions the people of God ask when they are hurting? I have been in a wheelchair since 1983 and have been totally paralyzed for many years. What I have written here is not unproven theory from passages in the Bible. I have personally needed to search the Scriptures and find these “Thirty Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer.” If you are suffering, or you know someone who is, join me as I explore thirty biblical responses of God to people with hurting hearts.
Dick Woodward, 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer

30 Biblical Reasons Why God's People SufferHow can an all-powerful and good god allow evil and suffering?  As William Lane Craig points out, the problem of evil and suffering is the primary argument against the existence of God.  In this presentation he argues that “Christian theism is man’s last, best hope for a solution to the problem of evil,” distinguishing between the intellectual and emotional versions of the problem of evil.

But the question is so profound that it can be particularly difficult to separate emotions from intellect.  It can gnaw at our soul. Even those who accept the existence of God can have a hard time resolving evil and suffering. Continue reading

Process of Suffering

Do you ever think about why God works by processes?  After all, why doesn’t God just ‘poof’ everything to be the way he wants it to be?  Why take 13.7 billion years to get to today?  Why take 4.6 billion years to build the earth and shape its climate?  Why did Jesus have to suffer?

Why do people have to suffer?

Countless theologians have taken aim at that question.  Most dissect it from the standpoint of purpose—as in “What is the purpose of suffering?”  The realities of suffering remain among the biggest stumbling blocks for atheists and believers alike.

When it comes to suffeDick Woodwardring, I have no credentials.  But I do know an expert.  Here are two messages Dick Woodward preached on the topic (from among many cataloged here) that get to the heart of suffering.

Some questions we just can’t answer.  Other questions we should never even try to answer.  Just like the difference between knowledge (knowing the answers to questions) and wisdom (knowing which questions count), it’s really important to know when to keep our mouth shut.

Here’s a short video that illustrates the value of “showing up and shutting up.”

It also highlights the processes by which God redeems us from suffering—not just for the care receiver, but the caregiver, the pastor, and everyone else.  Redemption is a process.  For whatever reasons, God followed his own rules, and suffered ultimately for our redemption.  There was no way to ‘poof’ the redemption of mankind—God had to prove it.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8,9 (NIV)

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
Apostle Paul, Galatians 5:6b (NIV)

The above story has a happy ending.  All three men interviewed in that video are ministers—and very good ones at that.  All three will tell you when people are suffering the most important thing you can do is show up.  And don’t pretend to know the reason for their suffering.

Sometimes we see the happy ending.  Sometimes the ending is just too hard to bear.  It’s hard sometimes to understand that God makes the rules, knows what he is doing, has a plan for each of us, values sincerity, doesn’t need us to attempt to explain anything for him, and intends ultimately for us not to have an ending.  But let’s keep our mouths shut and just use our feet and ears and arms when people are suffering.  The process is important.

HT: Steve Flanary, John Green, Bill Warrick, Steve Hooge, Dick Woodward

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