The Bible not only acknowledges suffering but voices the concern of many that its scale and intensity call into question the goodness of God. This existential honesty gives Christians an advantage—we don’t have to live or ponder in some form of willful denial. But several key insights reframe the problem of suffering for believers. One is the other great truth of life—just as there is loss and sorrow and pain and death, there is also love and joy and pleasure and connection. The world God has given us is one of amazing beauty and profound experience, and we are uniquely suited to explore and know it. Within this world, moreover, we come to know goods which transcend it.
The experience of divine love and the gift of divine faith are gifts greater than any losses we can ever go through. The idea of a reward disproportionate to suffering and death, which we can begin to receive now, is crucial. This kind of reward concludes the Book of Job, which is an extended meditation on the question of why people experience evil in ways they do not deserve. Similarly, Jesus’ parables of the treasure in the field and pearl of great price speak of the disproportionate good of life in God’s Kingdom.
Are there some goods which make suffering endurable?
FAMILY TIME— Ask your family: “What is our most valuable possession?”