Thanks for visiting my blog. This blog chronicles a mostly 4-year journey of love, life, and loss. It's now time to retire. However, feel free to browse and read through the posts.
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just Remember The Child

One of my favorite books, a fiction novel called The Shack, attempts to address the problem of suffering through a Christian point of view. In asking me to read the book, my mother hoped that I would learn how to deal with any future suffering or challenges that I may undergo. In the novel, the protagonist Mack is plunged into a “Great Sadness” after a serial killer abducts and murders his daughter, Missy. He remains an emotional wreck until God personally intervenes in his life. In reading The Brothers Karamazov and Immortality, just as in reading The Shack, I have come to appreciate the importance of God in shaping my understanding of suffering, and the meaning of a life-well-lived.

For most of my life, I never thought much about suffering. In fact, I tend not to philosophize much about anything. Whenever I would see a starving child on television, I would not ask God why he allowed the child to suffer. Instead, I would ask him to hasten my “growing up”, so that I could have enough resources to feed the child. Now I know that things will not be any easier when I finally “grow up”. Someone somewhere may always suffer, and my resources may not always be enough. Still, I must learn to confront suffering with the treasure that I have within me. Some people will choose to question the suffering in the world, yet refrain from answering it. Some, like Lize in The Brothers Karamazov, will construct their own suffering. Others, like Laura in Immortality, will think that their suffering exceeds the suffering of other people. For most of us, suffering will define our lives. Indeed, I am now convinced that my response to the suffering in my world will determine whether I will have lived my life well.

In my conversations with God concerning the starving child on TV, I never saw the need to question him. After reading and talking about suffering, I can see the reason for questioning him, but I still don’t see the need to. Although both Milan Kundera and Fyodor Dostoyevsky may hold different views from me, they seem to come up with alternatives to questioning God—cocooning oneself, challenging the world, and active love. Although I believe that all these approaches suit different people in different seasons of life, I still consider God an important part of my equation. What will matter at the end of my life is not how I questioned God, but how I chose to respond to the suffering in my world.

On 17th January of this year, a childhood friend of mine passed away. Interestingly, her death mirrors the Job story. Although she was a wonderful human being who loved God dearly, she still passed on. I remember calling my high school teacher on the day I received the news. “You won’t get much out of questioning God”, he advised me, “in fact, he may give you an answer that you don’t want to hear.” In thinking back on my teacher’s words, I have come to understand the wisdom in them. Suffering, in its many different forms, will always be with us. We may not get much out of questioning the world, God or ourselves. Indeed, I still find philosophizing a futile endeavor for me. Luckily, Kundera and Dostoyevsky have philosophized on my behalf. In so doing, they have helped to shape my death. Like Dostoyevsky, I want to practice active love until I die. Like Kundera, I want people to forget me after I die. Unlike both authors, however, I want people to remember a different kind of legacy from my life—I only want people to remember to feed the child I will have left behind.

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