I've had a lot of questions lately about suffering. Throughout the year, the question about suffering comes and goes, but it just seems like lately the question is on a lot of people's minds. Just to make it theological and show that I did graduate from seminary, I want to give you a big theological word that has to do with suffering: theodicy.
Theodicy asks this question: if God is is perfectly loving and all-powerful, then why is there still suffering in the world? Logically, either God is perfectly loving but not all-powerful or he's all-powerful but not perfectly loving. Because a loving and all-powerful God would have both the desire and the ability to get rid of suffering.
The answer isn't an easy one, but its one I want to explore over the next few posts. Actually, I don't hope to come to an answer, because I don't know that there is an adequate one, however, I do hope to write about it maturely and deeply in hopes that it will help some of you in your thinking.
So here's my first comment about it. C.S. Lewis said (and probably also wrote it somewhere) that "pain is God's megaphone to arouse a deaf world." In other words, God uses pain to get our attention. Now, there's definitely problems with this, I mean, can't God get our attention in other ways. If God wants my attention, he could just drop a million dollars out of the sky and into my lap (neatly folded in a large briefcase please). Or He could audibly speak to me. Or he could've turned the non-alcoholic beverages at our wedding reception almost ten years ago into alcoholic beverages (he's done that before). Okay, I know I'm being silly, but there has to be more to it, case in point: Jesus felt pain and God already had his full attention.
Shouldn't the life, death and resurrection of Jesus be enough to draw our attention to God? Even though I agree that C.S. Lewis's quote (and to be fair C.S. Lewis says a lot more about pain, evil and suffering in his book The Problem of Pain) is limited, I also agree that its part of the answer.
Its a part of the answer because pain can take us to terrible places. Pain can empty us of the desire to seek anything other than relief. And when we've exhausted all of the unhealthy resources to find relief, we often turn to God. Because once we've exhausted those resources, he's often the only resource left to turn to that offers any hope.
So, I definitely think God can use pain to get our attention, but I also think there is a lot more to the discussion than that.