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suffering faith

(20 Posts)
Ponderful Thu 01-Oct-09 01:12:44

As a learning christian i am struggling to answer my husbands questions about how a loving God can let a young woman be dying leaving young kids behind etc. He sees a lot of suffering in his cancer ward and I don't know how he copes. I have no decent answers. It just doesn't seem fair and I feel i don't know what i believe.

WurzelBoot Thu 01-Oct-09 09:21:03

Hello Ponderful. I didn't want to ignore your post because it sounds really difficult. Unfortunately I'm at work so I don't want to respond in depth. I'm also new to Mumsnet so I wanted to read around the site to make sure I'm not doing anything wrong!

What I did want to say is that I've had my own faith challenged and tested on a number of occasions. My husband is an Atheist too and though he's very much live and let live, his mother is not and I've been told before that my faith is silly, illogical, whatever. I've also had similar questions posed to me.

I think it's absolutely healthy to test your own faith in this way and to look into your soul to work out what you feel the answer to be. I know that doesn't sound helpful, but to a lot of this stuff there aren't any 'correct' answers.

I know I've stood and screamed at God on a number of occasions "how could you do this???". I've been upset and angry with him but it doesn't stop him existing. I've wanted to walk away (and have done on one occasion), just to find that the answers were there all along and then I've found myself walking back.

Anyhow, I didn't want you to think that you were alone. I'd like to come back later because I do feel this is an interesting discussion.

AMumInScotland Thu 01-Oct-09 11:38:30

It's one of the whopping big tricky questions for faith - so don't feel you're only struggling with it because you're still newish to belief - people with a long history of faith and a lot of studying still find it one of the big questions.

I find I have to look at it the other way on - would you want to live in a world where God intervened regularly to help those who "deserved" it, those who had children, or were young, or whatever. Where what happened to us, happened because we weren't worthy of being helped by God? I think it would be a very different world from the one we have now - maybe it would be a good place to live, because you could guarantee that bad things wouldn't happen to good people, or that children wouldn't be left orphaned. But we'd also be forced to do what God wanted, in order to stay healthy, not starve, etc.

We wouldn't have free will, because we'd know that if we did anything which God didn't like, we'd be crossed off the "protection" list.

Or else, God would just have to not let anyone get ill, or starve, to be "fair" and let us make our own choices. But then, our choices wouldn't have real consequences, for us or other people.

If I could drink-drive, knowing that God would stop me from hurting anyone, how would that work?

We can probably imagine a world where everyone believed in God, and tried to do what God wanted, and where no-one made bad choices, so no-one ever got hurt. But this world isn't like that - people make choices, and choices have consequences. Some of them are deliberate and stupid and obvious like drink-driving. Some of them are impossible to see the outcome of - you get the last parking space, meaning someone just behind you doesn't, and they miss their doctors checkup and don't bother to reschedule, then later find they really should have started treatment earlier. It's not about fault, but things we do all interconnect, and some of what happens is bad, some very bad. But how could God intervene to make everyone make the right choices all the time, and still let us have freewill?

Ponderful Thu 01-Oct-09 12:22:31

Thanks guys it so good to hear other peoples views. I haven't been to church in ages. Find it too stressful with toddler and baby. Though now wee one getting better will try cause is important to me to bring them up in the church. Also don't have much opportunity to talk at church while trying to keep an eye on kids.
Although I think I know what I believe I find it very hard to explain which makes me wonder if I have any concrete belief. It's very fustrating not being able to answer other peoples questions and feel I am a bad advertism for Christ. The last discussion ended with me apparantly aggreeing with husbands view that it's all scientific when I was trying to say that God was scientific.
I kind of get that there has to be good and bad and feel there has to be suffering in order for the world to run but then I love life the way it is - probably easy for me to say if I have not truly suffered. I kind of worry that Heaven will be boring.
If the whole process of life on earth is to learn through good and bad what is the point of Heaven - will we see all we love at the end cause it was all just a game. Do I want to live eternally? Someone told me Heaven was what you loved the most for it to be. Which for me would be for all my friends and family to be there but that will never happen unless they all became Christian.
Ok just re-read what I wrote after helping wee one in toilet and something was starting to fall into place but now have toddler take over. Have talked far too long anyhow.

AMumInScotland Thu 01-Oct-09 12:34:52

I don't really go with the whole "Heaven will be whatever you want it to be" kind of thing. I think what we're told in the Bible is that, at some point, this universe will stop and there will be a "new creation", and that if we are in relationship with God then we'll get the chance to be a part of that.

But I don't know what the new universe will be like, beyond the promise that we'll see God directly there. Which is obviously something which believers would want, but I don't think there's any promise that it's all going to be floating around endlessly on a cloud playing a harp. I don't think I'd fancy that much, and actually hope there's something a bit more challenging to it - otherwise what would be the point?

questioneverything Thu 01-Oct-09 17:52:52

The creations suffers because of sin.

Man suffers because of sin, each sin we commit has an eternal consqence, its not just about the big stuff, murder, stealing and adultery...its about the thoughts that we have. Jesus clearly said the murder starts in the heart with hate, and if you hate someone you have as good as murdered them.

Christians suffer because of the effects of thier sin, and the sins of others. But we also suffer as it is part of the testing of our faith. Suffering for our own sins teaches us nothing, suffering for the sake of Jesus Christ is for the refining of our faith and to make us into the image of Christ. Suffering for the faith is an integral part of the walk with Jesus. Walking on the narrow way is not easy.

There is a parable about counting the cost, when you become a follower of Jesus you must count the cost, this is why so many of these seeker friendly churches with the easy believe prayer are very dangerous. There are many people out there who think they are christians and are not.

If you have never repented with tears and agonizing soul searching, and counting the cost of possibly losing your life rather than denying your faith, then I would seriously question the reality of the faith you have.

God lets these things happen because he has been booted out mans heart, out of mans home, out of mans schools, out of mans countries. Then when bad things happen we point the finger at God. We should point the finger at ourselves.

BUT for those who love God he will use any bad things that happen to us for good this is his promise.

Jesus Christ was stipped naked, flogged till his back was rent open, and died a horrendous death. This could be construed as a bad thing. However it enabled a way to be opened for us to once again be in a relationship with God.

Message for the OP....not debate....

with love in Jesus name

Mouette Thu 01-Oct-09 18:39:51

I struggle with this too Ponderful. I don't have any answers really, and am wary of people who think they do! I know we live in a very imperfect world full of pain and suffering and also beauty and love sometimes. I know that God can help us bear the pain. Last year when I lost my first baby in the 18th week of pregnancy it was a very dark time, but I never felt like blaming God somehow. Eventually I believe that God helped me to cope and took the despair away. I don't believe God decides who gets pain and who doesn't, I guess it just doesn't work that way. I don't think it's anything to do with sin either, in the sense that pain is not a punishment for any sins. If God had decided that my baby should die because of my sins, what kind of God would that be?
A few times I believe I have felt the presence of God (the Jews say "his radiance" or Shekinah, because we can't perceive God himself). Where He was, there was no suffering, just light and joy. It was just a glimpse though, but it does give me hope.
On a practical level, I guess it's perhaps more useful to focus on trying to alleviate others' suffering (like your husband), it's allwe can do after all. xx

sarah293 Thu 01-Oct-09 18:41:21

Message withdrawn

Mouette Thu 01-Oct-09 18:44:08

"There are many people out there who think they are christians and are not.
I would seriously question the reality of the faith you have."
My dear sister in Jesus, you have no right to question other people's faith or tell people "Oh, you think you're Christian but you're not". St Thomas himself doubted, and Christ still held His hands out to him.
Beware of the lack of charity.

AMumInScotland Thu 01-Oct-09 20:07:09

questioneverything - I don't believe that God makes me suffer to test my faith. And I don't care whether you think I am worthy to call myself a Christian or not. That really isn't up to you to judge.

Riven - that's a very difficult question, but I think it again comes down to things which happen on earth being very complex cause and effect. I don't take the view that it is all caused by "sin" - not yours or anyone else's. And I don't believe that God sits there and says "Ha - I'm going to make them all suffer because they don't give me enough room in their school system". I guess I think that babies are sometimes born brain damaged just the same way that an atheist thinks it happens - sometimes the reasons can be worked out, or guessed, but sometimes we just never know.

I think the only real difference between me and an atheist in this one is that I believe I'm not alone in what happens to me. But I have the luxury of thinking that way from a position where I don't have much to have to "cope with", alone or with God's help, so I feel very inadequate to try to say anything to make sense of it.

Mouette Thu 01-Oct-09 21:29:56

I agree with you Muminscotland - I think the only difference between me and a humanist is this belief that God has helped me and that I have even felt His presence a couple of times.

sarah293 Fri 02-Oct-09 09:36:34

Message withdrawn

Mouette Fri 02-Oct-09 09:52:46

I am so sorry Riven. It must be so hard to bear. Nothing anyone says can make it better. I can only pary that God will give you strength and peace. Life IS very unfair sometimes. Hugs xx

sarah293 Fri 02-Oct-09 09:56:04

Message withdrawn

KayHarkerIsKayHarker Fri 02-Oct-09 10:08:42

Riven, I've been in the angry with God place too.

I like Corrie Ten Boom's illustration of the tapestry - we see the rough side of it and it's all jumbled and unpleasant, but eventually we'll see it from God's perspective and it will all make sense.

not meant in a pat sort of way, I have known suffering and difficulty too much to make light of it. I do think there there is something powerful in taking care of those who are less able than others - something that says that humans are valuable just by being human, not for what they do or don't do.

sarah293 Fri 02-Oct-09 10:15:12

Message withdrawn

DutchOma Fri 02-Oct-09 10:15:52

It is so understandable that you feel angry Riven and I'm sure God understands too.
Look at how Job ranted and raved at God and how he came to understand that he just didn't understand enough to 'get' God.
I do believe that bad things happen to good people, to innocent people, because sin has entered the world.
But Jesus says very clearly about the man born blind (John 9:1-3) that this was not the result of the man's sin or that of his parents, but so that the work of God may be displayed in his life.
Romans 8:28 says that all things work for the good of those who love God.
So that means that even if we can't for the life of us see what good can come out of a situation, God still can bring something good out of it.
What have you got left if you cut God out of your life?
No hope, no future, your daughter will still be disabled and you are stuck with this terrible anger.
You don't have to live like that. I so hope you can come to see that.

KayHarkerIsKayHarker Fri 02-Oct-09 10:19:46

Riven, you know I'm not a Muslim, but as far as I'm aware you're not supposed to just go through the motions when you pray anyway, so I think you're right to say 'You know what God, I can't do this'. I wish I could say something more helpful, but if it's any comfort, as you can't pray, I'll happily pray for you today.

Mouette Fri 02-Oct-09 17:01:31

I think the Book of Job is a great book, according to some experts it is actually the oldest in the Bible, which is quite apposite.
"Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return hither. The Lord giveth, and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!"
No answers really, but a wonderful dialogue between a suffering man and his God.

flibertygibet Mon 05-Oct-09 22:15:14

Have a look at this www.lifewithoutlimbs.org

Very inspiring!

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