Sunday, November 22, 2009

What is God's Answer to Human Suffering?

The Pieta by Michaelangelo

The answer must be someone, not just something. For the problem (suffering) is about someone (God—why does he... why doesn't he ...?) rather than just something. To question God's goodness is not just an intellectual experiment. It is rebellion or tears. It is a little child with tears in its eyes looking up at Daddy and weeping, "Why?" This is not merely the philosophers' "why?" Not only does it add the emotion of tears but also it is asked in the context of relationship. It is a question put to the Father, not a question asked in a vacuum.

The hurt child needs not so much explanations as reassurances. And that is what we get: the reassurance of the Father in the person of Jesus, "he who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14:9).

The answer is not just a word but the Word; not an idea but a person. Clues are abstract, persons are concrete. Clues are signs; they signify something beyond themselves, something real. Our solution cannot be a mere idea, however true, profound, or useful, because that would be only another sign, another finger, another clue—like fingers pointing to other fingers, like having faith in faith, or hope in hope, or being in love with love. A hall of mirrors.

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Featured Audio

Making Sense Out of Suffering
Making Sense Out of SufferingAudio icon
Introduction (0:00)
1. Importance of the Question (11:01)
2. Logic of the Problem (22:14)
3. Answers from Reason (35:15)
4. Answers from Revelation (44:20)
Questions (50:18)

For a brief online summary see:
God's Answer to Suffering

For many more valuable insights on this topic see Kreeft's popular book:
Making Sense Out of Suffering
External link (opens new window)