Wednesday, September 29, 2010



I stumbled across the photo above by chance some time ago and saved it for such a purpose as illustrating this post. The juxtaposition of Merry Christmas decorations around the paramedics carrying out a body bag from what has transitioned into a crime scene was too ironic to pass by without some mention. Human suffering abounds even amidst gay holiday celebrations.

Much has been written about the suffering of Job and many have used that book of the Bible to study the state of human suffering and how that squares with a loving God. But the book of Job is certainly an exercise in faith. In his book on “Disappointment with God”, Philip Yancey interviews a friend whose wife is fighting cancer and who suffered a serious head injury in an auto accident. He noted that he had cursed the unfairness of life and vented his grief and anger many times. But he also believed that God felt the same way and didn’t blame him. He related that “we tend to think that life should be fair because God is fair. But God is not life. And if I confuse God with the physical reality of life—by expecting constant good health, for example—then I set myself up for a crashing disappointment…If we develop a relationship with God apart from our life circumstances, then we may be able to hold on when the physical reality breaks down. We can learn to trust God despite all the unfairness of life. ” His faith had moved from a “contract faith” (I’ll follow God if he treats me well) to a relationship that could transcend any hardship.

Yancey observes, “no one is exempt from tragedy or disappointment—God himself was not exempt. Jesus offered no immunity, no way out of the unfairness, but rather a way through it to the other side. Just as Good Friday demolished the instinctive belief that this life is supposed to be fair, Easter Sunday followed with its startling clue to the riddle of the universe. Out of the darkness, a bright light shone. The primal desire for fairness dies hard, and it should…But if I stake my faith on such a fault-proof earth, my faith will let me down. Even the greatest of miracles do not resolve the problems of this earth: all people who find physical healing eventually die. We need more than a miracle. We need a new heaven and a new earth, and until we have those, unfairness will not disappear.”

Yancey concludes, “the Bible never belittles human disappointment (remember the proportion in Job—one chapter of restoration follows forty-one chapters of anguish), but it does add one key word: temporary. What we feel now, we will not always feel. Our disappointment is itself a sign, an aching, a hunger for something better. And faith is, in the end, a kind of homesickness—for a home we have never visited but have never once stopped longing for.”

Should we just give in and never try to squeeze a few more days of life out of a terminal illness? After all, we’re all terminal. But we’re also taught that life is sacred. Perhaps it does boil down to an understanding of the severity of the next procedure versus the anticipated benefit. If the benefits don’t outweigh the subsequent suffering, we should then simply seek the strength and comfort of God’s presence and the hope for a restored spiritual life.

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