I hurt. You hurt. Evil, pain and suffering are not illusions. No one is served byminimizing, diminishing, ignoring, covering their pain. The lives of young, loved children aresnuffed out by leukemia. Honored and adored parents are ravaged by Alzheimer's disease. Thestability and happiness of families are uprooted by thoughtless and thankless entrepreneurs whowould do anything for a buck. Drunk drivers are criminally thoughtless as they take to thehighways and jeopardize the life of the innocent and unsuspecting. Wives give up all for their families only to see husbands walk out arm in arm with the latest model. We have recentlyemerged from a century unprecedented in its cruelty and inhumanity, where victims of tyrantslike Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao Tse-tung are numbered almost 100 million. ¼ of Africa willdie of AIDs. Today one thousand million people in the world lack the basic necessities of lifeCan you be human if you've never wondered, Why didn't God stop it? Can there, in fact, be a God if there is so much suffering? The fact of suffering poses the biggest single challenge to belief in the existence of God, or, at least, a good God whom we can worship, adore and serve - aGod whom we can like, much less love. It is the immediate question on the lips of the skeptic. Itis the deepest disappointment in the heart of the sufferer. It is the weakest link in the lives of many professed Christians whose faith wobbles when pain comes in the door.There's two ways to ask these questions: from the head and from the heart. I want tomake contact with the way you think as well as the way you feel. The two are not unrelated - likewhen a doctor understands how a wound feels but also has enough science and useful knowledgeto actually make a contribution toward healing. Thought is important, because thought contactstruth. It opens our inner eyes to the light. God is truth. God is light. Therefore thought is alifeline to God. The head demands truth. We are like a patient in the hospital.
"Tell me the truth,Doc. Is there hope? Give it to me straight. Don't say things just to make me feel better." Wedon’t want relief through silly lies, half-truths and evasions. Real relief in order to be relief is based on (to be redundant) real truth.But we also ask this question from the heart, much like a jilted lover asks why someonewho was supposed to love them is now strangely absent. For suffering is a double hurt. The firstis the pain itself - the leukemia, the divorce, the lost job, and the list goes on. The second is thesense no one is answering the phone. We feel a1one, that somehow behind everything is a betrayal. That is its own kind of hurt. As CS Lewis recounts, there was a time he did not believethat God existed. And he was mad at him for it. Where is God when I hurt so bad?Since the problem is real, the solution must be real. God must do something, not
just sitthere, not just say something. He must not just explain. He must change things. The boy with the broken leg is not comforted by the idea of health. Nor is he comforted by an explanation abouthow legs get broken. The only thing that will do is for the broken bone to heal. So, once again, Iask the question, What has God done?The short answer is: Jesus Christ. Let's call it the Jesus solution. But I am jumping ahead.I don't think you will let it go at that. I didn't guess or even wish that you would. But I do wantto be up front with you. I am going to get around to Christ and the Good News He announcedand then became for us. After all, I am a pastor. I am not a psychologist. Knowledge of manalone is not enough.. We are, after all, not made in our own image but in the image of God.