Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Problem of Pain...and Death

I just started reading The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis again. This is problably the 2nd or 3rd time I've started the book and then not finished. Pain is a heavy subject and often with pain comes death. I sigh heavily when I approach this topic because it's not easy.

My life hasn't been easy. I'm not going to go into detail here in this public forum about the difficulties I've had, but know that what I write, I write from the point of view that one only has when they go through the fire. I'm not making speculative remarks when I write this post. This is from my first hand experiences.

I always struggle with this topic. The more I know...knowing that something is bad or knowing that I should respond to things that hurt me never really seems to make the pain or hurt go away. In fact, I've never found solace in someone telling me "it's for the best," "Things will get better," "Pray about it," "God loves you and understands," or most anything else that can sound cliche.

In the end, those statements are true. After time passes, I can look back and see that I have been refined and become a stronger individual. I know that I've been prepared for this journey that I'm on. However, at the time that things fall apart, that's not the case. I just want to be mad and to have someone or something to be mad at. I carried a grudge for a really long time because I though tthat if God was this great and powerful God then why did He let so many bad things happen? He's supposed to be protecting me and keeping me from harm. I know there's no promise that life will be easy and that things won't hurt...but if he wants and desires our happiness and love, then why the pain?

And so I read books like The Problem of Pain. This may never fully answer my questions. There are so many senseless things that happen in this life. Why just the other day in the Seattle Times I read about two young men who were driving at high speeds down I-5, clipped a car and then careened across three lanes to collide head on with an ambulance returning to its base after finishing a call. The two men were pronounced dead at the scene. What a tragedy! I read through the comments that people left and we're an insensitive society. Cynical to the core...most of the comments were about how those two men got what they deserved. One tried to justify what happened. In reality, none of us will know what happened because those two men are gone. If they're in heaven, thank the Lord. If they're in hell, it is a shame. Isn't it a shame that anyone should perish no matter what they've done on this earth? But then there's all the exceptions to that statement, right? What about all the people who've killed millions of people...or are serial killers. It is really a shame when they die or do we feel some sort of sense of justice. That justice has been served when these people die?

I guess this brings up another question for another post...What makes someone Human? Ponder that, because I'll be thinking about that for awhile.

Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. Bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people. There never seems to be a rhyme or reason for why it happens like that. Maybe it's that without the bad we wouldn't know what is good. Maybe the good is a glimpse into heaven. Maybe the senseless things aren't totally sensless in the end. Maybe the things we value and thing have reason and rhyme are actually senseless in the end.

My world has been turned upside down over and over. There never seems to be a single constant in my life except for God. Even church isn't a constant for me...or small group for that matter. Seems odd to say that, but it's true. I'm grateful for my small group, but I don't really know my small group. It's more of a social hour than it is people baring their souls. I don't really feel like I could tell people in my small group about myself and bare my soul. I guess that hints back to the iceberg analogy from my last post. My small group will only know a small portion about me and I'm okay with that but that the same time, it seems sad doesn't it?

Pain and suffering are things that are always going to be around. There is no escaping the fact that people hurt and die for seemingly senseless reasons. I'm sure that God has a plan and that there is structure, but it's never revealed to us at the time. That would wreck the story, right? ;-) Or as Kurt told me, "and yet without it, life would be dull. Well..really without the opportunity for it.." I often wish the plan would be revealed...but that probably means I'd try to find a way to bypass the difficult situations or painful moments in my life. In the end, I would be refined and I wouldn't become someone who could be loved.

Lewis uses an analogy about a master and his dog to explain. The dog is trained and disciplined in order to become more lovable to his master. It's true right? We train our dogs to do tricks, to go to the bathroom outside and not on our carpet. To not bite others or to not bark and jump on furniture. If we left the dog to its own devices, we would love the dog less. The refinement process allows the dog to become more lovable and enjoyable to be with.

To that I say...I want to be more lovable. God, make me more lovable

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