- By Elder Thatcher

A Thematic Blog - -By Elder Thatcher
"By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Problem of Pain

Have you ever wondered why life is so hard?  It's true--it is; but it's hard to swallow when you don't understand why.  So many people become pessimistic about pain and suffering because it is so ever-present in our lives.
On the other hand, some of the greatest men and women in history arrived where they did because they had come through their difficulties with this attitude, expressed by Orson F. Whitney.

“The spirit of the gospel is optimistic; it trusts in God and looks on the bright side of things. The opposite or pessimistic spirit drags men down and away from God, looks on the dark side, murmurs, complains, and is slow to yield obedience. We should honor the Savior’s declaration to be of good cheer."

Orson F. Whitney was born July 1, 1855.  He was, like myself, a missionary in Pennsylvania for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He went on to become a prominent poet and writer, a professor of English and Theology, a senator and, eventually, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.  

He taught much, during his life, about what C.S. Lewis called "The Problem of Pain," viz. the question of "Why does God allow so much pain and suffering in the world?"

In an article he titled "A Lesson from the Book of Job," he wrote the following:

“To whom do we look, in days of grief and disaster, for help and consolation? … They are men and women who have suffered, and out of their experience in suffering they bring forth the riches of their sympathy and condolences as a blessing to those now in need. Could they do this had they not suffered themselves?
“… Is not this God’s purpose in causing his children to suffer? He wants them to become more like himself. God has suffered far more than man ever did or ever will, and is therefore the great source of sympathy and consolation.”

Two major things characterize the life of Jesus Christ.  One is tribulation. (see Isaiah 53, Mosiah 14)  The other is the invitation, "Come, follow me."  He wants us to live the way He did.  He lived sinlessly, but not effortlessly.  He lived in perfect obedience, but not in perfect comfort.  He lived in hope, but not at rest.

How can we expect to follow Jesus Christ without being subject to sorrow, grief, pain, anguish, and, in short, opposition?  We cannot.  It is part of the great plan of our Father in Heaven. 

 Again, to draw on others' words:

"No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted.  It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility.  All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God...and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father...in heaven."  
-Orson F. Whitney                
I know that sorrow is a big part of every life that reads this article.  I promise you that I know that it is meant to be so.  We learn and grow because of it.  We follow the example of the only Perfect human being. 

1 comment:

  1. What a significant post! Something else which is worth considering, is that Christ's invitation is to take up his cross and follow him. The more we come unto Christ, the more we will be doing what he did, bearing one another's burdens. A disciples life is a difficult one, but we learn more profoundly what it must have been like for him to take upon himself the cares of the entire world. We draw even closer to him in the process, and firmer in our faith and reliance on him