This summer has seen a plague of extreme weather events in the US, from thunderstorms that knocked out power for millions, to the heat wave the produced a crop-destroying drought. And just in the last 30 days, Americans have witnessed 2 violent massacres—in a Colorado theater and a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. How do most people explain such suffering?
Recently I read an article that said Americans, unlike the rest of the citizens of our planet who accept suffering as a normal part of life, see suffering as wrong, something that interferes with the natural flow of life. Given that, I think many Americans see suffering as something to be tolerated (“This too will pass”). Is it any wonder the average person seems surprised when disaster strikes (“why is this happening to me?”). To the degree you and I are affected by this cultural view of suffering, we too will ask the “why” question.
Peter says, “Beloved, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, rejoice that these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world” (1 Pet. 4:12-13). Though many attempts have been made to understand it, there can be no explanation for suffering apart from this eternal perspective.