Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         Job’s wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity?
         Curse God, and die.”
         But he said to her, “You speak as any fool would speak.
         Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?”

                  —Job 2.9-10

         By the grace of God
         Christ tastes death for everyone’s sake.

                  —Hebrews 2.9

The question is not why there is suffering;
why shouldn’t there be?
Should there be no germs or earthquakes?
Should life be free of risk, or pain, or tears,
free of choices or freedom, but only directed by God?
Is pleasure always good, pain always bad?
Isn’t suffering necessary for love?

What would “deserving” be?
Would we want a God continually judging us,
the Dispenser Of Suffering And Reward?
Can God actually control suffering or pleasure?
Why is speaking in public, or being alone,
heaven for one and hell for another?
A blind person I know rebuffs our sympathy:
what we call suffering she does not.
What if one experienced sickness not as suffering
but a time to accept mortality, to draw near to God,
a Sabbath?

Who “allows” evil or injustice, war or poverty?
Who “allows” suffering when we eat meat?

If a person suffered for their evil,
could God not comfort them, relieve their sorrow or pain?
Or isn’t that the one thing God promises:
not to make our lives exactly as pleasurable as we deserve
but to be with us in it all?

There is evil because we are imperfectly loved;
sometimes we can’t bear our hurt,
but project it onto others.
How does God deal with evil?
By being with us in our pain, to heal it
so we may stop spreading it.
God suffers with us, “tastes death for everyone’s sake.”

There is no “reason,” nor need there be.
There is no need for labels of “good” and “bad.”
There is only gracious presence for all,
and the love that is willing to suffer for others,
the saving grace of the cross.

Rather than question suffering,
receive it as part of life,
enter into people’s pain and the suffering of the world,
and absorb it, so it may stop spreading—
and you will find God there.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at)

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