"Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born
blind?" (John 9:2)
It's a natural question, isn't it?
When a disaster happens, we want to know why. We've asked that question many times about the earthquakes that struck Haiti and Chile.
Why Haiti and not
Why Chile and not Brazil?
Sometimes we ask the question in very personal terms. Why did this man get cancer and his brother didn't? Or why did they both get cancer and one survived while the other didn't? We wonder why the drunk driver hit this car and not that one. Why did one person walk away from an accident while another person ends up paralyzed?
Yesterday we received an email from a friend in a distant state. She wrote to bring us up to date on friends in various places. She began with the good news from the church where she works: "Our little kids' classes are very full. We have more infants than we know what to do with." Four missionary couples are expecting or have had a baby recently. Then came the other side of the story:
missionary with a malignant brain tumor.
A friend who had a devastating stroke.
A teenage girl in cancer treatment.
Another teenager with bone grafts.
A little boy with Down Syndrome and leukemia.
She added this sentence: "The list goes on and on of people who are ill or suffering." And then, "The list of jobless also goes on and on."
No question challenges us more deeply than the question "Why?"
It has often been remarked that if we understand the Bible, we will instead say, "Why not me?" Shortly before my friend Fred Hartman died of cancer, he told me that he had never asked the question "Why me?" "God has been so good to me and I have been so blessed. Why should I be exempt from suffering? So I say ‘Why not me?' instead."
The question "Why did this happen?" challenges us to probe the connection between the goodness of God and human suffering. I think this is the # 1 objection many people have to the Christian faith and to the existence of God in general. One writer called the problem of suffering "God's Problem" because the obvious pain we see all around us turns many people away from any sort of faith in God.
If God is
good, why is there so much suffering in the world?
If God is all-powerful, why doesn't he use his power to stop the suffering?
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