Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mark Pickup on the Christian meaning of suffering

I have mentioned Mark Pickup before. (See also here.) He is a Canadian Catholic blogger with multiple sclerosis who writes on issues such as disabilities, suffering, and Christianity. Here he has the notes for a talk he gave on the Christian meaning of suffering.

Whether you are Protestant or Catholic, there is much in what Mark has to say that will have value for you. Here are a few quotations:

If there is no God, then there is no purpose to suffering. The logical response to suffering is suicide. If there is a bad God, then the response of Job’s wife is reasonable: “Curse God, and die.” If, however, there is a good God then there must be is a redeeming value to human suffering, for no good God could possibly permit it were there not.
People who advocate or participate in assisted suicide act with the logic of darkness … they are brutes prowling and sniffing over the waiting graves of the defeated. Any civilized society must always condemn assisted suicide in the strongest terms and never legalize or permit it.
An atheist once told me that Christianity is a crutch for weak people. He sneered and referred to Jesus as my imaginary friend. Having aggressive multiple sclerosis I know a thing or two about weakness, crutches and wheelchairs too. Jesus is not my imaginary friend – his presence has come into clearer focus the sicker I become. He is truer and more faithful to me than I have ever been to him.
The reason for Christ’s Passion and death on the Cross was to settle with God the problem of human sin and evil. Sin and evil kill goodness. We must not overlook or discount this truth. People suffer whenever they experience evil; the ultimate suffering is the loss of eternal life.


Anonymous said...

I think this Catholic can benefit from all that.

Lydia McGrew said...

Thanks, Bill. I hoped you wouldn't mind the lead-in. I have such a very ecumenical readership, y'know. :-) (Actually, I'm not sure that I do.)

Pickup is one of the best. I always feel humbled when I read what he has to say on these subjects.

Richard D said...

Lydia - I recently listened to a sermon while I was commuting. The preacher said that "few people point to the mountain-times in life and say, 'that's when I grew close to God." More often they point to the valleys as the times that they learned the most about God."

Suffering is a part of life, and not always because of our own personal direct sin. And lack of suffering is not necessarily an indication of the approval and blessing of God. In fact, it might be best if we all viewed suffering as a blessing from God, guiding us ever closer to him.

Thanks for this post.

Lydia McGrew said...

Thanks, Rich. You're sounding like the book of James or Hebrews there: God deals with us as with sons when he allows troubles to come. Yikes. I'm not sure I like the thought.

Unknown said...

You quoted: “The reason for Christ’s Passion and death on the Cross was to settle with God the problem of human sin and evil. Sin and evil kill goodness. ”

I want to comment about atonement.

(le-havdil) The same that is outlined in Tan’’kh (the Jewish Bible) about kipur – atonement – was taught by first century Ribi Yehoshua (the Messiah) from Nazareth. Read this essential teachings here:

Anders Branderud