Voice of the Martyrs
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Dear brothers and sisters,
Reading the Bible in a solitary cell, from memory, I am struck by the extent to which suffering pervades it.
It begins with the catastrophe of mankind's expulsion from paradise, and it concludes with the majority of mankind entering hell.
Why do even saints have to suffer?
Why are there sufferings in the animal kingdoms?
Why is a baby born with suffering?
Is suffering God's only educational method?
Why does evil exist?
Why have Christians suffered for decades in Communist jails?
After dedicating forty years of his life to missionary work among the Australian aborigines, a pastor fell sick. He suffered greatly as he was being transported on primitive roads to the city and was barely able to breathe. He asked his family to sing and to read to him from the Bible. Finally he said, "Stop the praises. I have served Him my whole life and He does not care for me." He took the Bible from his wife's hand and threw it into the bush. He could find no answer to the problem of suffering.
The only answer, which I believe should be given, is not to ask the question.
Jesus, when He was on the Cross, asked God why He had forsaken even His only begotten Son.
His question is followed only by a question mark.
All that is revealed to us is that the question exists and that we can live with it.
A sufferer once came to a pastor and asked him many questions. The pastor answered, "Kneel here in the church and ask Jesus for the answers." The man replied, "Do you really think I will hear a voice from heaven?" "No," said the pastor, "but by keeping quiet in prayer for several hours before God, you will realize that you can go along without answers to all your problems. This would have been Jesus' answer and it will quiet you."
You do not need more than His peace, which surpasses all understanding.
You do not need both peace and understanding, for understanding presupposes qualifications which most of us do not have.
The Talmud (Haghiga) says that there were four men who ascended to the highest firmament, Ben Azai, Ben Zoma, Elisha ben Abuya, and Rabbi Akiba. Ben Azai saw the glory of God and died. Ben Zoma saw and went mad. Elisha ben Abuya became irreligious. Only Rabbi Akiba returned unharmed.
Paul writes about a man who was caught up into paradise, but he could not communicate to anyone about what he experienced because the words he heard in paradise were unspeakable words (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).
A legend says that Moses once sat near a well in mediation. A wayfarer stopped to drink from the well and when he did his purse fell from his girdle into the sand. The man departed. Shortly afterwards another man passed near the well, saw the purse and picked it up. Later a third man stopped to assuage his thirst and went to sleep in the shadow of the well. Meanwhile, the first man had discovered that his purse was missing and assuming that he must have lost it at the well, returned, awoke the sleeper (who of course knew nothing) and demanded his money back. An argument followed, and irate, the first man killed the latter.
Whereupon Moses said to God, "You see, therefore men do not believe in you. There is too much evil and injustice in the world.
Why should the first man have lost his purse and then become a murderer?
Why should the second have gotten a purse full of gold without having worked for it?
The third was completely innocent. Why was he slain?"
God answered, "For once and only once, I will give you an explanation. I cannot do it at every step. The first man was a thief's son. The purse contained money stolen by his father from the father of the second, who, finding the purse, only found what was due him. The third was a murderer whose crime had never been revealed and who received from the first the punishment he deserved. In the future believe that there is sense and righteousness in what transpires even when you do not understand."
Faith in God is the sole answer to the mystery of evil.
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