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The Newtown Massacre and the Pain of God ^ | December 17, 2012 | Michael Brown

Posted on 12/17/2012 6:52:32 AM PST by Kaslin

In the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, as family members and friends of the slain and wounded suffer unspeakable agony, people around the world are asking, “Where was God?” But very few are asking, “Is God hurting too?”

According to Basilea Schlink (1904-2001), a German Christian leader who stood up to the Nazis, “Anyone who loves as much as God does, cannot help suffering. And anyone who really loves God will sense that He is suffering.” She found support for this view in the writings of the Japanese Lutheran theologian Kazoh Kitamori in his book “Theology of the Pain of God.”

God suffering? God in pain? How can this be?

If he is the Almighty Creator and Ruler, and if he has infinite knowledge of the future, why would he even create a world in which there would be so much suffering and pain on a daily basis? And if the scripture is true that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the knowledge (or care) of the Heavenly Father (Matthew 10:29), how could he allow 20 innocent children – not to mention the adults – to be cut down in cold blood?

Questions like these are raised in the Bible itself, including cynical observations about the state of the world (see Ecclesiastes 7:15) and even harsh accusations against God uttered in the midst of extreme suffering (see Job 9:22-23). As one Old Testament scholar put it, if you’d like to voice your complaint to God, the Bible provides you with forms with the words already filled in for you.

Of course, as I noted in my Ohio State University debate with Prof. Bart Ehrman, a noted New Testament scholar and agnostic, if you remove God from the picture, there’s really no problem of suffering and evil. A spider kills a fly; a lion kills a zebra; a mugger kills his victim . . . this is what the random products of unguided evolution do! What’s wrong with the survival of the fittest? Why doesn’t might make right?

But if you believe that there is a loving Creator, then you recognize that suffering and evil really do present a problem.

How then do we respond to a mind-numbing tragedy like the Newtown massacre, and how does the concept of God’s pain help us process this tragedy?

First, we affirm that it was right for God to create the world, without which we would not exist, and we affirm that it was right for him to give us free will. But these are gifts with consequences, and the things we cherish most – our existence and our ability to make choices for our lives – are the very things for which we fault God at times like this.

C. S. Lewis sagely observed, “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself. . . . Free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata – of creatures that work like machines – would hardly be worth creating.”

Put another way, love cannot be coerced; it must be freely chosen.

Second, we recognize that God created a world that would also cost him dearly, to the point that he had to send his Son to suffer and die that we might live. That was a consequence of his choice to give us freedom of choice.

In the words of Pastor Timothy Keller, “If we again ask the question: ‘Why does God allow evil and suffering to continue?’ and we look at the cross of Jesus, we still do not know what the answer is. However, we know what the answer isn’t. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he is indifferent or detached from our condition. God takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on himself.”

That’s why Anglican leader John Stott stated, “I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross.”

Third, we understand that God is not a distant bystander but is himself in agony because of his creation’s agony.

The Scriptures teach that he is hurt by tragedy and suffering, and Jesus was even angered by it. In the words of Isaiah, “In all Israel’s affliction, he was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9). He may not explain to us all the reasons for our suffering or tell us why he apparently doesn’t intervene more. But this much is sure: He cares deeply and he is suffering with us.

You don’t like the way this world is? God doesn’t either. In fact, he hates certain things that take place, but he is at work for good in the midst of it and, in the end, he will bring something beautiful out of it.

As expressed by quadriplegic Joni Erickson Tada, “God permits what he hates to achieve what he loves.”

Fourth, we realize that only God can bring good out of evil and light out of darkness. He who hurts with us will help us, and the one who understands the depth of human evil is the one who can bring healing and hope.

According to Kitamori, “Those who have beheld the pain of God cease to be loquacious, and open their mouths only by the passion to bear witness to it.”

And so, in the end, we stop talking and we stop writing, and we pray for God to bring beauty out of ashes and life out of death, in this world and in the world to come. Right now, the agony is great.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: connecticut; faithandfamily; god; schoolshooting

1 posted on 12/17/2012 6:52:40 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
If we love God we do not treat him as we should. We should not be a fair-weather friend. We forget about God every Sunday and every moment when everything is going great but we complain and cry out to Him when we need help desperately.

We don't deserve such a good God but because he loves us so He endures our ingratitude.

As a country, each one of us needs confess our sins and do penance for the terrible culture we are all a part of.

We need to turn back to God ASAP.

And it all starts with me.

2 posted on 12/17/2012 6:59:44 AM PST by frogjerk (Obama Claus is coming to town!)
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To: Kaslin

I think he has become apathetic to mankind, and has turned a blind eye to us, as so many here had to him.

3 posted on 12/17/2012 7:01:23 AM PST by theDentist (FUBO; qwerty ergo typo : i type, therefore i misspelll)
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To: theDentist

God doesn’t have a blind eye, and He is not apathetic.

We are suffering the consequences of our own sin nature, because we pretend we know better then God. We pretend there is no God. We pretend we are God.

The real God, who set the rules for us to live by, allows us to chose...serve Him, or serve ourselves, which essentailly is serving the evil one.

As Victoria Jackson said, we shouldn’t be surprised by what happended last Friday.

We should be surprised it doesn’t happen more often.

Man cannot have two masters....

4 posted on 12/17/2012 7:10:42 AM PST by mom4melody
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To: Kaslin
<<<==>>>Show CommentaryAdd parallel Luke 13 King James Version (KJV)13 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
5 posted on 12/17/2012 7:20:21 AM PST by Theophilus (Not merely prolife, but prolific)
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To: Kaslin

Repeatedly, in the Bible God’s wrath is brought upon the people who mock Him and fail to follow His commandments. We are setting ourselves up for one hell of a retaliatory smack down.

6 posted on 12/17/2012 7:24:19 AM PST by Don Corleone ("Oil the the cannoli. Take it to the Mattress.")
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To: Kaslin

These parents will be sadly wounded by insensitive idiots talking about “God’s Plan” and “They are in a better place” and “He only chooses the best for his angels”...yada yada yada

been there, lived through that

Some will find a life sustaining energy force in a faith that God did not take their children, He received them.

Those who lose and/or forever lack any faith or hope, I can’t even speak for. Unimaginable

7 posted on 12/17/2012 7:28:49 AM PST by silverleaf (Age Takes a Toll: Please Have Exact Change)
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To: theDentist
"I think he has become apathetic to mankind, and has turned a blind eye to us, as so many here had to him."

Or, as he puts it in the OT, "I have turned my face away from you"

8 posted on 12/17/2012 7:36:14 AM PST by circlecity
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To: Kaslin

All the evil done since time began has discommoded God not in the slightest. Hitler, for instance, failed to destroy anything God created. All Hitler did was to make God disappointed with him. From God’s perspective he didn’t so much as kill one Jew. Never mind the splendor of what God has prepared for us in another place utterly displacing the pain, fear and terror of life, as the Author of Time itself God can unwind the very stream Hitler was acting in. How does God just watch this Newtown monster standing over children and pumping 11 rounds into them? Because the killer only reveals the state of his dark soul, as he actually destroys...nothing. The immortal souls are the only real things in the picture, the rest, the stage, the backdrop the props the timeline are just shadows and light.

9 posted on 12/17/2012 9:15:39 AM PST by TalBlack (Evil doesn't have a day job.)
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To: Salvation; NYer

For your reading and consideration.

10 posted on 12/17/2012 9:38:33 AM PST by hummingbird
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To: Kaslin

Fairfield County, CT went for Obama; presumably, for gun control, abortion, illegal immigration, small military, high taxes and big government. Hurricane Sandy; Sandy Hook; policies built on sand.

11 posted on 12/17/2012 9:38:39 AM PST by Albion Wilde (The only way to stop a man with a gun is with a gun. --Daniel Greenfield)
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To: Kaslin

My God, why have You forsaken us?

12 posted on 12/17/2012 12:56:36 PM PST by donna (Pray for revival.)
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To: All

Then Rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not Dead nor doth he sleep
The wrong shall fail the right prevail
With Peace on Earth Good will to men.

13 posted on 12/17/2012 1:17:52 PM PST by Rightly Biased (Avenge me Girls AVENEGE ME!!!! ( I don't have any son's))
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To: TalBlack

Nicely said.

14 posted on 12/17/2012 1:46:18 PM PST by jimt (Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed.)
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To: Kaslin

When people go on and on about suffering and where is God, they are focusing too much on on this life and this rotting world.

15 posted on 12/17/2012 9:15:27 PM PST by LifeComesFirst (
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