Moralizing or minimizing suffering

By Dave Henning / November 22, 2012

In the Introduction to Glorious Ruin, Pastor Tullian Tchividjian discusses 2 ways we tend to respond to suffering, even when we know the source of our suffering.

He states that moralists “interpret misfortune as the karmic result of misbehavior”.  In other words, you failed to obey God and He is punishing you.  This doesn’t mean, of course, that sin does not have consequences.  However, Pastor Tchividjian asserts that it is cruel to believe or state that God doles out misery in direct proportion to the amount of trouble people heap on themselves.

An equally unproductive impulse is one that minimizes suffering, for such reasoning implies that if only we could detach from our emotions, we’d have peace in life regardless of the circumstances.  Suffering also is minimized when we reduce it to glorified means of self-improvement or make suffering subordinate to the results it may achieve.

The author summarizes by saying that we are on the wrong track “when our faith (or lack thereof) feels like a fight against the realities of suffering instead of a resource for accepting them.”  The good news of the gospel, he states, is not that we have to grin and bear our adversity, but that “God is hanging on to you, and in the end . . . the power of God will triumph over every pain and loss.”

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Dave Henning

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