Suffering | Two Quotes

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I’ve had some conversations with friends about the concept of suffering. This is a great mental exercise until you actually have to go through it, and then…well…it’s pretty terrible.
I would love your thoughts or experiences on this issue as it relates to the following quotes:
Two quotes:
The first is from a very conservative professor that I had. He said some pretty quotable stuff (i.e. at the end of class, he said the following: “‎If God spares the United States of America, he will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. Be safe.”)–but that’s not the quote I want to focus on…it’s this:
If you have never shaken your fist at the sky, do not covet the experience; it will come. Never look into the eyes of someone suffering and say “God has a reason” or “Someday you will understand”. Both are lies. It is a grave invitation to offer comfort that is not true. The Lord comforts those who are in pain, but he does not do it through deception. The answer to human suffering is that there are no answers. We are not going to understand. The result of living in a fallen world where everyone dies.”
And the second:
“The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.”
— Thomas Merton
Thoughts?

2 thoughts on “Suffering | Two Quotes

  1. Caleb Dorman

    These are beautiful quotes. I recently went through a time of suffering, and I praise the Lord that he was a comfort through it all and has brought me to the other side. Though it was recent I do not understand it. I have contemplated my own reasons for it. Some of these reasons have been selfish and others seem more godly, but I don’t understand. I know that God has used my situation, and taught me something through it. I do not believe he reasoned my experiences of suffering. Many things I have suffered through, I don’t want to know the reason. They happen, God comforts me. Searching for answers “someday” will just lead me back into the suffering even if it isn’t to the fullest extent it was experienced before. I love the middle of this quote. “The Lord comforts those who are in pain…” so many times I feel that even I forget this truth. What’s worse than the fact that I forget to ask God for comfort, I instead ask him for answers, which is not something he has promised me. I say God, “what is the reason for this.” or “Tell me why she said that.” or “Why did they have to die.” What I need to be saying is, “God, I don’t understand this, but I call upon you to be my comforter.”

    • Thanks for sharing this, Caleb. I think you have articulated well the tension we feel in pain. God comforts us, but we confuse comfort with understanding. They are not always synonymous. I would venture to say that they can tend to be contrary. After all, if reasons are what we are seeking, and we find them, and they give us comfort, then that is not God being our comfort at all. Our understanding becomes our comfort. I believe this is what God decries in Job’s friends. All of them claimed to speak to God’s purposes or even for Him.
      Job is honored by God for his being honest (though he had to prepare himself for a stern talking to!).

      I grieve with you that you have suffered. I pray that you continually find the peace and comfort of God.

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