One further point

In my blog on the Marxification of the Situation, I quote a Phoenix resident who spoke of “accepting this trial as discipline from our Heavenly Father”. That offended some people. But, of course, all the writer was doing was quoting Hebrews 12, which is itself quoting Proverbs:

“And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? —

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

nor lose courage when you are punished by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves,

and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

There are, I repeat, two basic ways of approaching suffering. You can approach it as meaningless crap that just happens or you can assume that there is some meaning to it. If the former, then you are not a Christian or even a theist in any real sense. If the latter, then there are three basic possibilities: you are suffering in order to be purified or you are suffering so that somebody else will be purified or you are suffering for both reasons. In either case, joining your sufferings to Christ’s is the only thing you can do to make those sufferings fruitful.

That does not mean you are obliged to suffer as much as possible. Pain killers are legitimate. Prosecution of criminals is right and good. But for the suffering that is left over after these and other measures are applied, the Church’s theology of suffering is really the only game in town, unless you choose to subscribe to the Buddhist model of eliminating the sufferer.


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