Bible Study: The Problem of Suffering

Download a PDF of the Bible Study: The Problem of Suffering.

Intoductory Note

While the problem of suffering or pain is wrestled through on both a philosophical and theological level it is a daily reality that we all deal with. C.S. Lewis introduces his famous work on the subject, The Problem of Pain, stating in regards to pain, that “If any man is safe from the danger of under-estimating this adversity, I am that man.” (p. 10).  It is a bit ironic and maybe, if I dare say, a bit prophetic that later on Lewis dealt with that adversary head-on as he watched his beloved wife Joy succumb to the ravages of cancer. His book, first written anonymously, A Grief Observed, dealt with a man for whom the “rubber met the road” in regards to how his faith was tested under the real experience of suffering. When a person is going through the actual experience of suffering the last thing they want to do is have someone answer their cry, “Why are you doing this to me God?” or “Why is God allowing this to happen to me?” with a philosophical or theological treatise. Rather it is a person’s compassionate presence that speaks volumes to the one in the midst of suffering. Here is where Job’s friends were truly of help when they sat with Job, in his suffering, and did not say a word (Job 2:11-13). While this does not mean that we should never address the issue of suffering, it does mean that the issue should be addressed at an appropriate time and always with loving concern. It is important, therefore, that the teacher of this study keep this in consideration when they are teaching this lesson to their youth, for there may be students in their midst for whom the problem is currently an experienced reality.

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About the author

Rev. Jonathan Ruehs is the Associate Pastor in charge of outreach in the campus ministry department at Concordia University in Irvine, California.
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