There are a lot of terrible things that happen in the world, even in our own lives. How do we account for inexplicable suffering, sadness, bad situations that are not getting better? If you don’t have a doctrine of the fall of mankind, which broke the world and cursed it, these questions must eat away at your view of the competency of God at being God. After all, why can’t he superintend the world well enough to keep such disasters from happening, why do thing suddenly go wrong for no apparent reason? But if you believe the world is deeply broken because of a primordial act of rebellion against God, then suffering becomes intelligible as a part of the fall out of that original act of rebellion. People suffer because this world is broken by sin.
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God“
- So that we know our chief end ought not be earthly things, which we may never get, or shall never satisfy our souls.
- It corrects us
- When we don’t use our lives for the glory of God
- When our chief consideration in life is our own glory
- When we oppose God’s glory.
- It calls us to make God’s glory our chief.
- Magistrates ought to pursue it.
- Ministers ought to promote it.
- Masters of family must lead their families in this.
“Man’s chief end is to enjoy God for ever.”
In this life
- For seeing the wickedness of making enjoyment of this age our chief end.
- Enjoy God in his ordinances of worship
In the age to come
- Enjoy God now that we may enjoy him hereafter.
- Let it spur us to duty to do these things now.
- In sorrow now, there is a day coming of pure enjoyment in God.
Body of Divinity, 6-26
“I once heard it said that life is a series of divestitures. And, as much as I militate against loss, separation, and pain, I know that it’s true. That divestiture is part of the fabric of our lives is evident by the fact that even babies know how to say “bye-bye.”” -Elyse Fitzpatrick, Comforts from the Cross
“We suffer because we mistakenly believe that God’s goals and our goals are identical. Into this confusion and sorrow, your Savior, who isn’t insensible to your pain, speaks. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).” -Elyze Fitzpatrick, Comforts from the Cross
- Suffering is real and will not go away. But death comes as the end, and death brings an end to suffering and [gives] eventual peace. [MATERIALISM]
- Suffering is an illusion. It simply is not there, but is imagined. [EASTERN RELIGIONS]
- Suffering is real, but we ought to be able to rise above it and recognize that it is of little importance. [EXISTENTIALISM]
- God suffered in Christ. God knows what it is like to suffer, and therefore can offer help to sufferers. [CHRISTIANITY]
From Alister McGrath, I Believe
“When my father found his father at Mount Pleasant after the war ended, he was shocked at first to see how he had been wounded. In fact, he was speechless. So my grandfather’s first words to his son were “I am confident that I will find great blessing in it.” And that is what he said about everything that happened to him for the rest of his life, all of which tended to be more or less drastic. I remember at least two sprained wrists and a cracked rib. He told me once that being blessed meant being bloodied, and that is true etymologically, in English–but not in Greek or Hebrew. So whatever understanding might be based on that derivation has no scriptural authority behind it. ” -Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
“We can rest contentedly in our sins and in our stupidities; and anyone who has watched gluttons shovelling down the most exquisite foods as if they did not know what they were eating, will admit that we can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” -C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain