Reading through the book of Job recently, I was struck once again with how different the book’s answers are to our questions about why things happen, especially suffering, than the way we answer those questions ourselves.
Compassion is a good thing, and we certainly ought to show compassion- to weep with those who weep, to bear each other’s burdens. But this book is a really key book in understanding why suffering happens, and its answer sounds downright blunt and uncompassionate. But often the kindest thing we can do is give people the truth.
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Jesus says the man born blind (in John 9) was born that way not because of any particular individual’s sin, but so that God’s works could be shown in him. Jesus would heal the man, and even more importantly save the man, and all of his suffering was to that end, to glorify God through His act of salvation for this man.
People say this doctrine makes God out to be a monster, to be cruel and unfair. If you think that, I have a suggestion to make. When you get to heaven, look that blind man up and ask him whether or not he got a good deal from God, whether suffering blindness and all the misery associated with that, especially in an ancient culture, outweigh the joy and glory he has already experienced from God for around two thousand years.
Those who accept the primacy of God’s glory in all the events of history will never have any reason to complain that God treated them unfairly. Those who reject the right of God to glorify Himself even through the suffering of man will have a lot more to worry about than anything they do or don’t experience in this life.