Broken: Does Everything Happen for a Reason?
None of us get far in life without running into suffering. I know so many of you are facing difficult circumstances like health problems that are life-threatening or financial concerns that keep you up many nights. Many of us have worries about our children and grandchildren and their future. We see the state of the world and shake our heads. We pray for God to work in the larger troubles around us but sometimes the problems seem relentless. All of us know first hand what it means to suffer. We’re all experienced. And this is a big problem for religion. We want to know where is God when unbearable pain tears us or the people we care about apart. What is God’s purpose when we see innocent people killed or seriously hurt by terrorist activity or a hurricane? We believe in a caring and compassionate God who loves the world. We hear the call to respond in compassionate ways as a church and believe in helping those who have been through tragedy. Yet sometimes we just want to wring our hands.
In the Bible, Job is the victim of all kinds of undeserved suffering. And he is miserable. A big question is often raised when we read his story: is there a purpose or reason behind our suffering? I know that sometimes when we cannot easily see a reason we try to fill in the gaps and create one. People say God had reasons that we don’t yet understand. Or this person died because God needed them in heaven. Those answers are never satisfying to us. And to be honest, we all live in a certain amount of denial about the roles we play in suffering. We don’t always like to see how we might be complicit in climate change or in living our own economic advantage as a culture that depends upon cheap labor in other parts of the world. We move through life so fast, trying to keep our heads above water, that we miss the connections between the ways we live that contribute to or connect us with the world’s pain.
The story of Job reminds us it is hard to penetrate God’s thoughts. God’s will is certainly larger than our understanding. As a faith community, we worship so that our knowledge of God and God’s way is always growing and grounded well in scripture and faithfulness. We come to worship on Sunday to bring God our sadness and troubles, to ask for God’s help for others we love who are in pain. We ask for God’s redemptive work to be done through us so that we can help God to bring healing and hope to those who suffer.
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