Phillip Yancey begins Chapter 6 (“What is God Trying to Tell Us?”) of Where is God When It Hurts? with 3 observations regarding the relationship between pain, suffering, doubt and faith. He notes that:
1. Pain always is specific, never general. Pain may be specific to a particular illness or “an emotional cloud of sorrow and grief”.
2. For almost everyone, doubt is a reflexive reaction to pain. Suffering causes us to doubt our most basic beliefs about God.
3. Faith does not insure that we will not experience tragedy or feelings of doubt and betrayal. In fact, Phillip Yancy states that being a Christian complicates the issue. If things in the world happen by pure chance, it makes no difference, for example, whether you or someone else is downsized or loses a ministry position. Nothing personal, you understand! But it’s an entirely different situation when you believe in a powerful God who tenderly loves you. Then pain, suffering, doubt and faith become personal.
As Tullian Tchividjian reminds us in Glorious Ruin, the most important question is Who is with us in and through our suffering.