I've never really had a problem with suffering myself. I know a lot of people who do, who struggle to accept that there is a good and loving God with so much suffering in the world, but ... that's never really entered my mind. When something bad happens, I never turn to blame God; it's just not in my nature. As an atheist, I never sought to disprove God through suffering; I ridiculed the concept of his very existence. As a Christian, not once have I felt my faith questioned by suffering. Suffering just is, and I don't see how blaming God gets anyone anywhere. After all;
Is it getting better, or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you now you've got someone to blame?
- U2, One
Playing the blame game doesn't help anyone, and yelling at God won't get you anywhere. Of course, I admit to playing the blame game, and taking the blame isn't my favourite task. However, what I have noticed about myself is that I never pass the blame onto God; the idea of doing so simply does not enter my mind. When suffering comes, I take the other road, the road that a lot of people take ... I call upon God.
Basically, that is the point I am trying to convey. The world needs suffering. Without suffering, how are we to realise God? Tell me, when you are happy, do you run around thinking about God or do you revel in the delights at hand? When someone buys you a new car, you thank them, not God; when you roll it over on a winding mountain road the next day and get trapped, you pray to God for survival, not whoever bought you the car. It is often through suffering that we come to acknowledge God, or rebel against him, but rebelling against him nonetheless implies his existence. An atheist throwing a tantrum and yelling "Fuck you, God, I never believed in you anyway!" seems to actually imply God exists. I ask you, why would someone yell at a concept he or she believes to be the biggest fiction ever created? It's irrational, and I'll tell you one thing I learnt from my time as an atheist - atheism is rational. I just accidentally stumbled across that and I never planned it when I thought this entry over in my head, but I think it's actually quite true: the atheistic rebellion against the concept of God is more proof for than against God.
Back on track now. I would like to propose an idea, one that may seem a bit odd at first: without suffering, love could not reasonably exist or be felt to its full potential. Yes, I did just say that. Suffering and love are inextricably intertwined and are inseparable. Love may rejoice in good times and be felt in a joyous manner, but is that the whole story of love? Most. Certainly. Not. Love runs a lot deeper than a few romantic dinners, a lovely sunrise, and random gifts. When does love show its true colours? When does it prove its most notable qualities and present the evidence that it never fails? In suffering. Without suffering, love is left as a half-emotion, unable to be fully experienced. We know that God is absolutely loving, and so, by necessity, he must permit suffering to exist, otherwise the greatest emotion cannot be felt.
Furthermore, without suffering, where are the great acts and the great minds? If everything is a bed of roses, why would you consider philosophy, or the deep things of life, or anything like that? You have no need or desire to do so; it's pointless and needless folly. That leads me to what I feel is the greatest question for the Christian - without suffering, where is redemption? Love is exemplified in the willingness to give everything for another - everything, as in one's life. An absolutely loving God, to exercise this absolute love and make it shown to mankind in its fullness, must lay down his life. Some would argue death is the greatest suffering, and whatever the case, laying down your life (especially in the manner Jesus did) involves an element of suffering to truly complete the love. Therefore, the existence of suffering and therefore death were essentially required for God to fully display his nature and lay down his life, and in the process be absolutely loving. "Can an all-loving God permit suffering?" is not the correct question. In actual fact, can an all-loving God not permit suffering? No, he can't. Everything has its place, and suffering's place is inextricably interwoven with the place of absolute and true love.
I feel that in relation to this topic, I should make an observation. Death is a great form of suffering, and now is not the time to debate whether it is the greatest form or not (though I think it is clear that it is). It is true, however, that the biggest fear for many people is death, and reasonably so. Death is the most limiting thing that can possibly happen to a person. When you die, that is it; your pursuits are over, you can no longer achieve your goals, you have departed from your friends and family, and so on. So I find it fascinating that in committing the greatest act of love, Christ also conquered death and brought about the defeat of the greatest form of suffering. Love cannot exist without suffering, but their existence is an intriguing one, for love always rises above suffering and proves itself victorious. Suffering most adequately reveals the qualities of love, including the quality of victory. That fascinates me, it really does.
I'll leave that contemplation there. In other news;
- Presented my eulogy for Macbeth yesterday. All in all, I'm pretty pleased with how I went.
- Doomed on assignments across the board. How lovely. I think I shall throw a party to celebrate this good fortune.
- I keep telling you all this, but Twilight by U2 really is one of the greatest songs ever made.
- How to know when your band has a major influence: when an American President makes a speech about them. From 1992, a speech by George H. W. Bush: "Governor Clinton doesn't think foreign policy is important, but anyway, he's trying to catch up. You may have seen this in the news; he was in Hollywood seeking foreign policy advice from the rock grop [chuckle], rock group U2. Now, understand I have nothing against U2; you may not know this but they try to call me at the White House every night during their concerts. But the next time we face a foreign policy crisis I will work with John Major and Boris Yeltsin, and Bill Clinton can consult Boy George." Classic.
- One thing I will give H. W. is that at least he can speak. Current President Bush does a less than impressive job. At least Kerry seems to be familiar with the English language.