Hey Guys! I just finished Phillip Yancey’s ‘Where is God when it hurts’. So from the title you would have already guessed that this book is addressing the problem of Pain.
Philip Yancey said that Pain is very much like a warning system. it sensors loudly to alert the body of dangers and forces one to pay attention to the problem area. The book went on to mention this doctor, Dr Brand. Dr Brand is a renowned doctor, an expert on leprosy. After reading many passages in the Bible that mentioned Leprosy, it has certainly gotten my attention. I thought Leprosy was a disease that rots away the human flesh without pain. Apparently Leprosy primary works like an anaesthetic, simply attacking your body to cause numbness. So how is it possible to lose limbs? well without pain, one cannot recognise dangerous pressures, they would not know when to stop, when would it hurt them. They could be cutting themselves but not notice it. Without the gift of pain, it would be difficult to do what i would like to do, playing drums, eating even opening a door would be difficult. 😦
The book also points out that there is difference between pain and suffering. For example, a Leper would not feel pain but is suffering lots. But God is amazing, he is able to turn a horrible situation around, make it great! Sometimes joy can come out of suffering. for example, a hiker climbs for hours, he is hungry and tired. When he eats and drinks something, it is going to be more delicious than when he eats it when he is not tired and hungry. A person who has gone through life with a broken family will treasure this family more in the future.
Well, do you ever wonder why would someone actually suffer? Was it because of a past sin? Was it to test you? Well, Phillip Yancey offered two observations.
1) many old testament passages warn against painful consequences that follows specific actions.
Well this still stands true today! You eat alot, you grow fat. You don’t read the Bible you can’t protect yourself with the word
2) some old testament passages show God causing human suffering as punishment for wrong behaviour.
but every single time something like this happens in the old testament, it will come with lots of warning. Luke 13 says
13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Well, we are all deserving to suffer for the sins we have done. the person who has cancer and the person who doesn’t, both have sinned.
Most of the time when we suffer, we will tend to find out the cause of our suffering. We will ask ‘God, why me? why put me in this position?’. But God seems to be silent. In the book ‘Disappointment with God’ Phillip Yancey has a few theories, that knowing why we suffer will not help us, the israelite know why they are suffering, but what can they do?
“Knowledge is passive, intellectual; suffering is active, personal. No intellectual answer will solve suffering. Perhaps this is why God sent his own Son as one response to human pain, to experience it and absorb it into himself. The Incarnation did not “solve” human suffering, but at least it was an active and personal response in the truest sense, no words can speak more loudly than the Word.”
Another theory is that the reason of cause is beyond our reach, we would not be able to understand.
But God focusses more on our response than the cause. I remember that the book said this, whenever one non-christian falls ill, God lets a christian fall ill, just as to show the difference in response. James 1:2 says this
Trials and Temptations
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
This passage is not calling us to be crazy and shout, ‘Yay! God is making me suffer!’ But rather it calls us to consider it joy that we are suffering, for that is when i can grow the most!
I like to end with this. God did not exempt himself from suffering. He, brought himself down to our level, faced every single temptation we have faced, but still with no sin.The Temptation of Jesus is incredible, a loaf of bread will tempt anyone who has fasted for forty days, an assurance of safety would appeal to someone who was about to face torture and suffering and the splendour of all the earth kingdoms was predicted for the Messiah. Satan was giving God a ‘shortcut’ to achieve all his messianic goals. With no sin, he suffered like a human and died like a human. He did not rejoice, saying, ‘Yay Daddy God, i am going to suffer and die!’ but He said, ‘Father if you are willing, take this cup away from me’ He obeyed God until the end.
Well, This book is really such a great one! In fact i highly recommend it! I alway learn lots from Phillip Yancey’s books, well, i only read two… 😛 Ok hope this will help you to decide to read this! Trust me, there are much more content in the book than just this!