This week I’m beginning a new sermon series: “I’ve been wondering…”. Over the last several months I received questions about which you have been wondering. Does God have a plan for my life? Does prayer work? How can we live together when we don’t agree?
This week I invite us to reflect on a question with which humanity has struggled for millennia: Why does a loving God allow good people to suffer?
This is not merely a theoretical question. It is one most of us will ask at some point in life.
It is a question with which the entire Book of Job wrestles. After Job (described as a good, righteous man) suffers the loss of his entire fortune and then the death of his 10 children, he asks, “Why? Why would God allow this to happen?” For 35 chapters his friends offer their explanations of “why”; none of those answers satisfy Job.
I, too, will share various ways that people have address the question of suffering, but I’ll be honest: any answers we give about “why” there is suffering will not satisfy us. If you expect me to offer simplistic answers about “why” bad things happen to good people, you will likely be disappointed by the sermon this week.
Yet I do believe that the Christian faith has something crucial to say about questions of suffering.
At one level, the Christian faith reminds us that we need to ask deeper questions. In his classic book When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Rabbi Harold Kushner writes, “We need to get over questions that focus on ‘Why did this happen to me?’ and ask instead questions that open doors to the future: ‘Now that this has happened to me, what shall I do about it?’” The Christian faith encourages us to go into those deeper questions.
At another level, the Christian faith proclaims a message about what God is doing about suffering that happens in the world and in our lives. It’s a message proclaimed by the central symbol of the Christian faith: the cross.
Join us this week as we reflect on a question about which you may have wondered and listen for what the Christian faith proclaims.