Was it providential (or synchronistic) that this devotion I wrote over a month ago would come out two days after Richard Mourdock’s comments about God’s causality when it comes to rape and conception? In any event, here is another reflection on suffering and divine causality. This appears as today’s Fourth Church Daily Devotion, part of our congregational project of reading through the Bible in 2012.
When it comes to what we think about suffering, there is a fine line in our faith tradition between believing that good can come from suffering and believing that God causes suffering.
As people of faith, we search for meaning behind life events, both good and bad. An often repeated statement of faith maintains that “everything happens for a reason.” In retrospect, it is often possible to see that good things can in fact come from suffering. One door closes and another one opens. A health scare helps us refocus our priorities. Tragedy draws us closer together.
But do these experiences, coupled with a belief in God’s sovereignty and providence, lead to the conclusion that God actively causes suffering in order to bring about positive outcomes? Personally, I have a hard time believing that God causes suffering for any reason.
The writer of today’s psalm has both suffered and benefited from suffering. I’m grateful that the question of God’s causality is left ambiguous. Whatever each of us may believe about the origin of suffering, we can all take comfort in God’s care and the wisdom of following God’s way.
Loving God, when I am suffering and when I am well, help me to recognize your presence in my life and learn from your way. Amen.
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