Ed Welch on What Not to Say to Those Who are Suffering

Ed Welch has a great article over at the CCEF blog on What Not to Say to Those Who are Suffering. He writes about a common question was ask those who are hurting that may be the wrong question to ask.

“What is God teaching you through this?”

Hmmm. This is orthodox. God does teach us in our suffering, and he is working all things together for good. We agree with C.S.Lewis when he writes that pain is God’s megaphone to arouse a deaf world. But the story of Jezebel and her entrails being food for the dogs is orthodox too. We are after orthodoxy that is relevant, pastoral and edifying.

Consider a few of the possible problems with this question.

  • It tends to be condescending. If you heard this question from someone, you probably didn’t hear compassion.
  • It suggests that suffering is a solvable riddle. God has something specific in mind and we have to guess what it is. Welcome to a cosmic game of Twenty-Questions, and we better get the right answer soon; otherwise, the suffering will continue.
  • It suggests that we have done something that has unleashed the suffering.
  • It undercuts God’s call to all suffering people, “Trust me.”

Click here to read it all.

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