Taking the Suffering Seriously: A New Exploration

Eyelashes on pages, remnants of tears.

Yesterday, I wrote a post that I’ve found difficult. It asked us to consider whether everything that happens — even the pain — is just as it should be. 

I struggle with this question. 

I’ve struggled with it on a personal level at specific times in my life, due to experiences that formed me not-for-the-better. And more recently, as I’ve shared here in glimpses, I’ve struggled with it on a more global level as I grieve the mass atrocities and events of evil in our world’s present and far-off past. (I recently began a series exploring this struggle on another blog dedicated to just such questions.)

But we know we aren’t alone in struggling with this question. So many souls for so many ages have wrestled with it, too. The idea that “everything’s as it should be” has even turned many a soul from God.

It’s hard for us to fathom a God that allows suffering. 

I’m not one for Sunday-school answers. They lack real heart and flesh. They’re impersonal, more interested in the answer itself than the struggle that provoked the question. And so I’m not going to give you any of those here. 

What I am going to do is explore the question. With you. Out loud. Over the course of several installments. 

I’ll seek to make this exploration as human as I can — to put real flesh and faces on it. My sense is that this exploration of suffering will include stories of my own and how my understanding of those stories has developed over time. My sense is that it will also include ways of thinking about pain and suffering that are not, in myself, fully formed yet. 

But since this is a space called Still Forming, that’s quite appropriate here, isn’t it? 

What questions or struggles related to pain and suffering do you have that we might explore as we go?