Jul 29, 2016
Richard Harries, former Anglican Bishop of Oxford (U.K.), wrote a book some years ago entitled Art and the Beauty of God, which has become something of a classic.
Hidden away in the book is one of the best (if incomplete) summaries I know of the problem of suffering and how the Christian can deal with the matter and live through it.
Harries begins by saying, "The almost overwhelming objection to believing that there is a wise and living power behind the universe is the existence of so much pain and anguish in the world." Christians can live with this objection by recognizing that the problem of suffering can never be answered in this life. But, for non-believers the problem is insurmountable.
Harries' first explanation of suffering is that God has given humanity genuine independence. "We are genuinely free, within limits, however narrow, to shape our destiny; and that means being free to choose what is harmful to others and oneself, as well as what is beneficial." Given God's overall purpose in creation to bring about free, rational beings like us, it could not be otherwise.