Thursday, 12 July 2007

Surprised at suffering?

Suffering has got to be one of the biggest challenges we meet - both in our own lives and in the lives of others. But, it seems to me that a significant part of dealing with suffering is about expectation. Though it comes suddenly, suffering shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, the Bible's clear that this world is decaying and falling apart - suffering is just inevitable in this kind of a world. When something bad happens we can have the feeling that someone is picking on us, but actually we should remember that bad things are 'normal' in this world. Expectation-management is key to facing the doubts that arise in the midst of suffering. If I think God's going to give me a good life because I'm a good Christian, suffering is going to crush me. But if I remember Jesus, who lived the perfect life yet suffered horribly, my attitude towards my own suffering will be very different. I won't feel so much the victim, nor a martyr, but simply as one who is facing the normal conditions of life. Perhaps we still basically think of this world as unfallen and good and so throw our arms up in despair when our lives fall apart. Perhaps we're not really looking for another world, but basically want this one and get disappointed when it's not as great as we hoped. I can't help thinking that I need to get the gospel and the hope of resurrection much deeper down into my life here so that I can face suffering properly.