The common Christian response to the question of suffering I hear is: "Well, everything happens for a reason." "It is God's will." "It's God's plan." "It is for the best." I suppose that there are people who seem to find comfort in such a cold philosophy; however, I find it only brings more and more difficult questions. Are we merely chess pieces being played on a board, being moved around completely by outside forces? God created us with the ability to think, to reason, to make our own choices.
Although I believe God has the power to initiate any scenario, I believe that in most cases there are much deeper issues. I cannot perceive a God who says "Today I will give that person cancer," or "Today I will send someone to shoot people in this school, or "Today I will start the Holocaust." I struggle to believe that all the natural disasters, all the starvation, all the terminal and debilitating diseases, all the child abuse, etc. are a part of God's master plan.
It's our nature to want answers to our conflicts, struggles, hurts, diseases and pains? Maybe it's bad food, bad theology, poor belief systems, bad governments or even bad DNA... You know? We are pretty good at looking for answers, and if there are no answers, often, we are quick to blame... Oh boy, do we know what to do with blame! I know that there are times when people, organizations and governments mess up and we have a just responsibility to expect accountability. But sometimes answers are beyond us!
Still, I believe that we have to hold on to certain truths of Scripture. I believe that God hears us when we pray, and cries with us when we hurt, and comforts us, understanding with love there's a lot we cannot comprehend and that our grief, while temporal, is very real. I believe with all my heart that in our times of suffering, in those times when we cry out to God to hear our prayers and reach down and touch us, that God shelters us compassionately as a mother bird shelters her young under her wing.
Grief, pain and loss were never God's plan for us. The Scriptures remind us that this world is fallen and is not what was first purposed. They tell us that there is an enemy of our soul who seeks to kill, to steal and to destroy. The Apostle reminded us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. That is why it is so important to look to the work of Christ in our lives and become clothed in his righteousness. How much better we would fare if we were to grasp God's plan for us and pursue it recognizing there are much greater issues in this world in which we live. Ultimately God is moving toward a certain purpose