The Paradox of Suffering

The Battle

I found a link to a program called “The Question of God” hosted by a Harvard Psychiatric Professor, Armand Nicholi.  He invited many well-known scientists to his program to discuss if God exists.  There are in total nine conversations on major topics about human life.  One of them, which is the most controversial one, is about suffering and death.  I would like to give some feedback about their conversation here. 

Dr. Frederick Lee, a Chinese scientist  and Christian from Harvard, said he could not comprehend why a loving God would let so many horrible things happened to good people in our world.  He also said C.S. Lewis, who is one of the most important scholar in the modern Christianity, claimed that pain is mainly caused by faith and he was puzzled by this idea. 

Although I cannot answer this question with complete certainty, I believe that the human understanding about justice and fairness is different from God’s one.  Bad things happen to both good people and bad people, and good things happen to both good people and bad people.  God does not want us to suffer, but he cannot prevent the existence of dualism (i.e. good and bad) due to human’s free will.  Hence the battle between the good and the evil persists.  When we choose to side with God, we will suffer from the awareness of good and evil which is caused by faith.  The deepest pain is not physical, but emotional and spiritual.

However, Jesus mentioned that suffering is the high place of human kind.  It means that when we suffer, we have an opportunity to understand life more and let God’s strength shine through our weaknesses.  Like Victor Frankl, the Jewish existential psychologist who survived from the concentration camp in Germany, said we still have the last freedom to choose how to react to our circumstances despite of our suffering. 

According to my observation, I can see that people with faith have a different attitude towards suffering.  They have more hope and strength to go through suffering.  These people let me see the beauty of life and human potential in defeating the dark.  Without sadness, we may not know how good happiness is.  Without injustics, we may not know how important justice is.  And I have learned from these heroes that our lives are actually not for ouselves only.  We are born for the good of human kind.  True happiness come from sacrificing ourselves for the public.  I think when we look at the whole picture from a higher angle, we will feel less confused and have a more positve outlook in life.

References: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/questionofgod/nineconv/suffering.html

The Beauty of Ashes by Joyce Meyer

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