God’s Response to the Problem of Pain

The following cartoon was drawn by Ken Catalino whose work is featured at Townhall,

It probably refers to the current devastation in Myanmar (though it could equally apply to the ’05 tsunami or Hurricane Katrina). Not sure who the angel is supposed to be, but the artist makes it evident that he is questioning God.

I understand that such events that affect so many always raise important questions about the goodness of God. The questions basically take the form of, “How can a loving God ______?

CS Lewis called it the “problem of pain” and wrote a brilliant treatment of it in his book “The Problem of Pain.”

While the book is very good and I enjoyed it immensely, but because it is solely a human product (unlike Scripture) it cannot supplant God’s own response to the paradigm of human suffering, Job.

Job spends most of the book named after him trying to understand why he has suffered so. He lost his children, his property, his health and even his friends try to provide him with easy answers.

Yet God’s response to Job’s questioning is truly one of the most majestic and humbling portions in all of Scripture,

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
“Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
“Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding…

Click here to read the rest of God’s response as well as Job’s reaction.

Why God, Why?

This question has been asked by many people who find themselves in a variety of circumstances.

Usually the question is asked when things go completely south in this stage we call our world.

Curiously enough, the question is hardly asked when things are going well.

Admittedly, it is sometimes asked under irreverent conditions, for example, by a Red Sox fan watching that dribbler treat Billy Buckner like a Roman arch.

In other instances, the question is legit as in the death of a child or in the aftermath of a particularly gruesome infamy (the Holocaust) or even natural disaster (the tsunami which hit Thailand back in ’05).

I don’t intend to fully explore the intricacies of what is often referred to as the “problem of evil” or “the problem of pain” [I think CS Lewis did a more than adequate job in his aptly titled tome, “The Problem of Pain”, so for a treatise check it out].

Of course for a concise answer to this so-called eternal question, click here or here.

I bring this up because recently through an interesting set of ahem, “circumstances”, I found myself at the book written by the prophet Habakkuk (circa 605 B.C).

The book is basically a dialogue between the prophet and God. In the first 2 chapters, Habakkuk argues with God because God’s ways seem unjust to the prophet. It seems like it’s the story of a man trying to comprehend the ways of God, Habakkuk was not the first and well, he is definitely not the last.

The first 4 verses of this book consists of Habakkuk’s first complaint.

The prophet basically asks the question that crowns this post. Of course, not in those exact words but the idea is clear,

The oracle which Habakkuk the prophet saw.
How long, O LORD, will I call for help,
And You will not hear?
I cry out to You, “Violence!”
Yet You do not save.
Why do You make me see iniquity,
And cause me to look on wickedness?
Yes, destruction and violence are before me;
Strife exists and contention arises.
Therefore the law is ignored
And justice is never upheld
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore justice comes out perverted.

The answer LORD gives is stunning, but I’ll save that for a later post (Of course nothing is preventing you from checking it out).