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Purpose from evil & suffering

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” Genesis 50:20

A short note on suffering.

I don’t believe the cliche that “everything happens for a reason”. This saying is frequently thrown out, but it’s attempts to comfort become trivial in the wake of real tragedy: my mother’s cancer, my father’s abuse, my struggle with jobs, the sexual assault I endured, & the brain trauma I faced last year. It cannot adequately explain the increasing violence, mass shootings, suicides, illnesses, or natural disasters we see around the world today & throughout human history. It cannot explain the gut wrenching feeling we have when our world shatters in front of us, and we are helpless to stop it.

I cannot explain all the background on suffering or fully explain how the Christian view of suffering is expressed in the Bible, but I can offer my view & how it’s changed throughout my traumas. First off, my view has largely been shaped by Philip Yancey’s book, Where is God When it Hurts. This book offered timeless truths in the face of suffering.

{exert from Yancey’s book below}

“Is God somehow responsible for the suffering of this world? In this indirect way, yes. But giving a child a pair of ice skates, knowing that he may fall, is a very different matter from knocking him down on the ice.”
― Philip Yancey, Where Is God When It Hurts?

“The first step in helping a suffering person is to acknowledge that the pain is valid, and worthy of a sympathetic response.”
― Philip Yancey, Where Is God When It Hurts?


“We feel pain as an outrage; Jesus did too, which is why he performed miracles of healing. In Gethsemane, he did not pray, “Thank you for this opportunity to suffer,” but rather pled desperately for an escape. And yet he was willing to undergo suffering in service of a higher goal. In the end he left the hard questions (“if there be any other way . . .”) to the will of the Father, and trusted that God could use even the outrage of his death for good.”
― Philip Yancey, Where Is God When It Hurts?

Just like Joseph’s time as a slave & imprisoned due to his brother’s evil actions, we are often hurled into unfortunate circumstances due to another’s sins, natural forces, or our own sins. However, the Bible’s story about Joseph & Job show us that God can transform us in our pain & suffering to be wiser & stronger, even when it makes no sense.

If you are going through a season of suffering, please let your community know, because we are called to bare each other’s burdens. Feel free to message me about your circumstance, and I will pray for you if I cannot do something else. My prayer and hope for myself, & anyone going through suffering, is that we trust that God can transform unspeakable tragedy into good for ourselves & others. Only He can make beauty out of ashes.

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