Out of suffering, good can come

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, April 21, 2013

past week has been one for the books in terms of tragedy and suffering. First, the senseless bombings at the Boston Marathon followed by the devastating explosion in West, Texas.

And interspersed within all this tragedy and suffering was news of poison-laced letters sent to our country’s leaders. These are just a few of the tragic events that dominated the headlines and touched the lives of so many these past few days.

Before I had any knowledge about the bombings Monday morning, I was asked the question by our ad manager Zane Brown, “What kind of a world do we live in?” At which point he went on to show me pictures on his phone of the carnage at the Boston Marathon’s finish line.

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That was the start of a week of headlines and endless news updates as tragic events continued to unfold.

Such dramatic events capture our attention, carrying us out of our daily routine and remind us of the fragility of life on this planet. Tragedy has a way of sucking us in, wanting and searching for a way to help those hurting.

For those of us reading and watching such events from afar, questions of “how” and “why” fill our thoughts and break our hearts for those directly affected. It’s as if just watching we can in some way make a difference. Our thoughts and our prayers go out to the suffering in need.

For every act of evil, there seem to be countless acts of heroism in its wake. In the moments following the Boston explosions, people of all walks of life can be seen running toward the blast area in efforts to assist the wounded. In West, most of those who lost their lives were running towards the flames. As it seems to always go, the worst acts of evil and suffering tend to bring out the best in human nature.

In the book “A Case for Faith,” author Lee Strobel attempts to address the question we all ask during times like these, “Why does God allow tragedy and suffering?” Strobel points to some key Biblical truths about God and the world in which we live, filled with pain and suffering.

God did not create evil. God is love. In order for us to experience his true love he had to give us free will. It is through this free will that sin came into the world. And through sin, evil and suffering exist.

His example is to look at your hand. You can choose to use that hand to hold a gun and shoot someone, or you can use it to feed a hungry person. It’s your choice.

A second point is that God can use suffering to accomplish good. Roman 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

God can use suffering to draw us to Him, to mold and sharpen our character, to influence others for Him – He can draw something good from our pain in a myriad of ways … if we trust and follow Him.

So back to that free will He gives us. In times like these we can decide whether to turn bitter or turn to God for peace and courage. In John 16:33 Jesus says, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace….

This Sunday morning in churches across this great land, prayers will continue to go out for the suffering. There will be prayers for peace and comfort for the families of the first responders in West, Texas – Those who gave their loved ones to the call of duty to ensure the safety of their neighbors.

And there will be prayers for those killed and maimed in the senseless street bombing in Boston.

Let us not be consumed by bitterness in this time of grief and uncertainty. As Jesus’ words reassure us in the remainder of the verse, “… You will have suffering in this world. But be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

Rick Reynolds is president/publisher of The Daily Leader. Contact him at rick.reynolds@dailyleader.com.